Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christmas Presences: The Roots That Wind Deep

I was visiting with a friend who showed me the left-overs of a plant basket she was given. She admitted that through her busy life, she had watched the plants wilt away until they were all gone, but one. She thought she would salvage the basket and soil come next spring, and then decided to set it outside the living area of the house in the garage and left it there, knowing it would die.

She admitted she felt bad, but gave up on this last remaining remnant of what had once been a flourishing basket. I understood where she was coming from; as life gets busy and we have to try to move on as best we can, when we know in our head that it’s time to let go. Yet it still didn’t sit well with me. I don’t like to let go, I never have.  

As is often the case, what we don't like tends to show up to help us learn both the process and hidden gifts, as we master an increased ability to surrender.  Learning the difference between these two, (letting go vs. surrender), can make the difference between the ability to know contentment amidst loss and being consumed by it.

The greatest surrender I have ever learned in my life, has come during times of loss of loved-ones.  The greatest loved-one-loss I have known, the person closest to me in this life in many ways, has been my dear office mate, Rex.  Rex lived his life very well, but on borrowed time.  He had his first heart attack at 12 years of age. His adult life was spent as a gifted cognitive therapist, where we worked in tandem, for the last five years he had here.  Literally and figuratively, Rex knew the vulnerability of the human heart.

During Spring of 2010, he had explained that he was going through a time of deep surrender, facing challenges in his own life, as we all must.   A month or so later, I was leaving the yoga studio and felt a deep empathy for the extent of all he had shared with me, regarding his current circumstance.  As I walked down the stairs to my car, I thought of him contemplatively and like a quiet prayer, my heart spontaneously spoke to his.  I sent gratitude for his help in my life and encouragement to do whatever he needed to do to find the rebalance he had offered to so many others.  
 I would have no idea, at the time I had this random thought, that within three months, he would contract of systemic infection and pass away.  There would be no way for me to anticipate, that that is what re-balance would look like for Rex.

As I cared for him during the last two weeks of his life, I gained an understanding of intimacy and surrender, that continue to serve me in my life today.   At the time of his passing, I felt his palpable presence.  In truth his presence has remained with me, moment by moment, from that one, to this.  

The clearest channel our loved-ones have to connect with us through the veil, are those things that are already familiar to us.  One of those things with Rex was his smell.  He always kept his shaving kit in his car.  So when He would come in to work in the morning, It was always apparent that he had just splashed it on. 

At 3:00am this past December 24th, I was gently woken from a deep sleep by his distinctive smell, of all things. I was sleep-fuzzy, when I thought to myself: “I smell Rex’s aftershave”. 

In the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning, I thought to myself: "how comforting".  It was clear he was very close, or I was very open, I am not sure which was the case, but it was unmistakable. I could feel him bringing comfort to my soul in a way he was so good at. I will forever marvel at how solid, and at the same time, how softly tactile his energy still feels to me. I drifted in and out of sleep, feeling his warmth, faintly smelling the scent of him, for several more hours; each time keenly aware of his spirit spending a little gentle care on me. One of the most cherished experiences of my life.

As the morning brightened, I began blogging about our Christmas Eve morning tradition. It was one of the times during the year he would reserve for a little self-care.  After he finished with a client or two, I would give him a Thai Partner Yoga session and we would go our separate ways for the holiday.  But here I was, feeling the loss and closeness with him together, the first Christmas Eve morn since his passing.  As I finished the blogpost, an email hit my inbox from a mutual friend of both Rex and I, with a subject line that startled me.  It said: 

“Awakened at 3am This Morning”  

I opened the email and read:


A very nice crystal singing bowl was purchased very early this morning....It is a gift to you from Rex. It has very special purposes, some of which I understand...The story of how all this happened will be included with the gift.

It is a Heart Chakra Crystal Singing Bowl. I'm sure it will be the perfect tone for it's purpose.

Have a Meaningful Christmas Syl.


When Frank delivered this gift, he told me that at 3:00am on Christmas Eve morn, his computer randomly came out of hibernation and woke him. As he tried to go back to sleep, he felt Rex prompting him to get online and order a Crystal Singing Bowl for me, which he did. 

Later that day (Christmas Eve Day) he got a call from the seller saying she was sold out. At this point there were no more Heart Chakra Bowls available anywhere in the US or UK.

Frank, being frank, explained that there had to be, and told her of his experience in the wee hours of that morning, and a little about the work Rex and I did together. She sighed and said: “So you are telling me I need to sell you my own personal bowl aren’t you?" He said: “Yes!”. She explained that her bowl had an incredibly pure and healing sound, she considered it sacred glass, and after hearing the story, she could feel for herself that Rex wanted me to have it.

I have loved this gift. As I began to use it as part of my personal meditation, it has lent the most lovely deep ring as a background to my chanting. It took only one roll of my mallet around the outer edges to realize, that the tone of this particular bowl shares a perfect harmony with my voice as I “Om”. It's ring is so deep and soothing...a lovely counterpart to my interpretation of ancient melodies, intended to bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth.
The sound of this bowl is so pure and clear as it fills the room of the yoga center and brings healing to my heart in ways beyond measure. Until today, I have been keeping my chanting and bowl ringing private, but this morning, being dear Rex’s birthday, I felt it was time to share this sacred glass with the group. I thought back to the many times Rex and I sat together in front of a group of yogis as counterpart-teachers; me of the body and Rex teaching of the mind.

Today as the class sat at the end of our practice, and as I chanted with the deep ring of this lovely glass, I thought of Rex’s name: Rex, Latin for King, with the middle name: Croft, meaning The Consoler. How fitting that his life should encircle his name in such an endearing way and how wonderful that he joins us still in the low, deep ring of the crystal as my hand softly winds the mallet, circling the edges of the bowl.

As my hand circled, round and round, streaming heart chakra resonance through the room, my thoughts also turned to my friend and her plant. 

When she went to pull it out recently, to throw the plant away and use the soil for potting something else, she was startled to find that the roots ran deep, encircling the soil, holding it close. It was so clearly impossible for her to let it go.  So as for her,  I too surrendered just a bit more to the connections that just don’t end, but rather wind between heaven and earth, mind and body. 

The message in these roots that wind so deep and supportive, are still alive today for me, as well as the roots of healing that run through so many of the lives he touched during his mortal life...So on the Birthday of Rex Croft Kocherhans, I express my gratitude for the connections with him that continue circling back through my own life...and to Rex I share my sincere appreciation for yours, my beloved friend, a life well lived: Happy Birthday, beloved Rexie and Thank You for one of the best Christmas "presences" I've known.