As a new father, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with my daily meditation practice - among other things. I'm sure this is not news to anyone who is a parent. (Which reminds me that I am discovering the greatest appreciation and respect for anyone who has ever had children. It is an amazing and overwhelming experience.) Yesterday I had gone running in the early morning with my friend and running buddy, Jeff, and had come home to a busy house where I was needed by my wife and daughter, so Stillness did not happen as I had planned.
The day was not over though. I had been hired to officiate at a funeral out near Seaman, Ohio. Someone was looking for a shaman and found me through my website. At about ten after four, I found myself sitting in my car at the edge of a gravel road leading into the Tranquility Wildlife Area. It struck me that I was about ten minutes early, so I decided to meditate in the car. I was assuming that I would be pulled out of my Stillness at any time by the arrival of the funeral party. It took me awhile to let go of the expectation that they would be showing up at any moment. Finally I settled in and let go of time and place and expectation.
When they did show up, 20 minutes late, I was in a very good place. I followed them down the deeply potholed gravel access road for almost a mile before we pulled off into a small field and parked. The fellow who had hired me was an Army sergeant in dress blues, with his Korean wife and 4 year old daughter. They were joined by some twenty or so family and friends who were there to say goodbye to his father. He recounted briefly the times that his father had brought him out to this very spot to camp. Here he had come to appreciate the power and serenity of nature and to deepen his relationship with his father. The service was short and uncomplicated. I said a few words about the different parts of the soul, about ancestors and about the unceasing love of parents for their children and children for their parents. I asked the physical soul of the departed to enter into some water and then his son poured this water reverently at the roots of a huge oak. We made offerings to the four directions and asked the ancestors to welcome him home. The son scattered his father's ashes, said a few more words and we were finished.
As I watched the tears of those gathered there I was struck by something my wife said recently: that the mark of a great man is that he is surrounded by though who love him. It was clear to me that this was a great man. It was a good ride home.