It was 1989, and time to come up with a name for my just-born son. In an move I’ve never regretted, we named him Seamus (Shay for short), and though we agreed we weren’t naming him after anyone specific, it was cool that his name echoed this fellow from Ireland, who passed away late last month.
During that period 24 years ago, folks asked us, baldly, how can you bring a kid into this world? It’s all so dark, so hopeless, so unforgiving, they said. I think this poem by Heaney answers the question far better than I did at that time. As I look at the tracks my sons both are leaving, as well as the ones they trace out as they make their paths, I believe in miracles, and the chance for hope & history to rhyme.
from “The Cure at Troy ” by Seamus Heaney
Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted or endured.
The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
faints at the funeral home.
History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.
Call the miracle self-healing:
The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
Ever since he came back from the moon in 1972, Edgar Mitchell has stood out among the world’s spacemen in his outspoken sense that more was going on out there (and down here) than moon rocks & jet fuel. As late as last August, he was in the news because of his studies and belief (he answered a badly written British story here), but throughout his life he sought to keep his eyes, and mind, open.
I like the way the IONS site describes him:
Traveling back to Earth, having just walked on the moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell had an experience for which nothing in his life had prepared him.
As he approached the planet we know as home, he was filled with an inner conviction as certain as any mathematical equation he’d ever solved. He knew that the beautiful blue world to which he was returning is part of a living system, harmonious and whole—and that we all participate, as he expressed it later, “in a universe of consciousness.”
Trained as an engineer and scientist, Captain Mitchell was most comfortable in the world of rationality and physical precision. Yet the understanding that came to him as he journeyed back from space felt just as trustworthy—it represented another way of knowing.
This experience radically altered his worldview: Despite science’s superb technological achievements, he realized that we had barely begun to probe the deepest mystery of the universe—the fact of consciousness itself. He became convinced that the uncharted territory of the human mind was the next frontier to explore, and that it contained possibilities we had hardly begun to imagine.
I came across a poem this week that stopped me in my tracks. I was reading the Tibetan Book Of The Dead when the eight lines below jumped off the page.
I’ve never seen a description of “source” written on paper so succinctly. This is the epitome of what we are touching at the height of ceremony and deep meditation – when we are truly awake.
These words are now printed on the wall next to my desk:
Remember the clear light, The pure clear white light From which everything in the universe comes, To which everything in the universe returns; The original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home. – The Tibetan Book Of The Dead
Never forget who you really are.
Stay curious, Nick Polizzi Director, The Sacred Science
Even tiny insects survive by mutual cooperation based on innate recognition of their interconnectedness. It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lays at the very foundation of our existence.
Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others. — Dalai Lama
We here at the editorial offices of Brother Ian are fascinated with the burial & funeral rites & rituals of folks around the world, so this, which was mailed to us by a priest in Georgia, may interest you as well:
While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had found a dead robin.
Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased.
The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers, and with sonorous dignity, intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: “Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goes.”