A family gathering: Rushing to get there. Rushing to be together. Rushing to take time. Destination: Calgary, Alberta, to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Paul’s Mom. Over fifty family members and friends would honor the family matriarch and share stories. The busyness of the last three days was equaled, and eventually transformed, by the rushing waters of Fish Creek Provincial Park. I entered the peacefulness of nature. Red-leaved bushes and swooping, white-tipped tailed and winged Magpies echoed the freedom of the wild, the unknown. The refreshing sounds and sights beckoned my attention—a type of Pandora’s Box that was forever changing, unlike the hidden and forbidden contents of the myth.

Curiosity growing, I became the red leaves, the gracefulness of black and white birds with negative reputations. Movement morphed into questions. Would I find the area where, three years previously, Black-Capped Chickadees fed on seed from my human hand? Would the early mountain snowstorm quietly, yet assuredly, define every inch of surroundings? Is there an advantage to contemplating death while out in the very nature of life? Other than at death itself, do the questions ever stop? Does the inner work ever end? My best guess is that I’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP).

Life and death are complimentary partners. Inseparable, they have similar characteristics of accompanying the soul into the unknown, of exploring its purpose, and of extending love throughout the universe. Yet there are moments of drama and resistance that continue to plague my thoughts and emotions. Part of me is still trying to be someone or something. It is then that I feel there is a lot of surrendering to be done. Pushing and striving do not serve me. Rather, continuing to understand my experiences as illusions and non-essential frees more space for what really matters—the automatic knowing of unconditional love. What I know, I live and share.

Fluid connection and integration with the energies within and around me lead the way to an automatic knowing in my heart. This automatic knowing equates to the feeling that overcomes me while listening to a concert of professional musicians intersecting interpretation, rhythm, space and resonance, creating a peak experience. The giving and receiving between us leads to an upward spiraling oneness of unconditional love, unexplained by words.

However, while trying to be someone or something, I am unable to feel this connection of unconditional love. Striving is unnecessary because Source already knows my essence to be unique. Further striving creates separation from Source. To be ordinary is to be whole and complete, as created. Content with oneself. The higher realms pose this reality. I understand this principle, yet I hear Ego screaming, What do you mean, be ordinary?! You grew up encouraged (OK, pushed) to ‘make something of yourself’—be different, work harder, be better! This was also your mantra in life’s middle years. Now, in your later years, you want to give up on that? What a disappointment you are! Those words pierce my heart. They don’t describe my truth as I’ve come to know it today. They are just one of Ego’s ploys–stories I’ve heard repeatedly from parents, teachers, and bosses—a familiar societal rant. Really. I don’t have to try to be someone or something. I am worthy and perfect in Source’s eyes, just as I am.

Continuing on my walk in the park, I could recall few people over my lifetime that I would define as ordinary. One does stand out, only because everyone else at the time was trying to differentiate. Mary, my neighbor of thirty years ago, seemed to be content with life and had no need for striving. She and I got together to talk two or three times a week while our kids played on a swing set or devoured a yummy picnic lunch. I remember Mary most vividly because she did not worry about her two-year-old daughter or four-year-old son. She knew that her husband would always be a successful business person. She accepted the blight on her tomato plants, the Boxelder bugs that swarmed on the south side of her home in the fall, or the winter’s snow and ice. Diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, Mary had received a terminal prognosis of six months. Although extraordinary in her courage, what impressed me most, as I think back to our time together, was her acceptance of the ordinary within the present moment, something that I had no understanding of at the time. Not once did she pity herself. Without even trying, she was the strength of love, compassion, and connection. Oh, to remember these gifts among the living from one who was dying. As we are in life, so we are in death. Mary transitioned with great peace of mind—she knew her truth—and I am grateful for a deeper understanding of those shared moments.

Another question that comes forward from Pandora’s Box is “What do I celebrate in death?” Certainly the beginning of another cycle of rebirth. Preceding this celebration is the role model in death that we become to our family members, friends, and community. That is worth considering. By going inward, in advance of our compromised health or journey of dying, we realize what is important to us, how to make known our voice, and what we want others to remember. It is our exclusive deathright to decide how we want to die and what we want others to know about that time in our life.


Walking along the park trail, I noticed the fluffy seeds of the thistle that are controlled by the timing and conditions of nature. This is a perfect metaphor for our dying and death experience. Our thoughts and feelings, directed by something unseen, yet felt, need to be thoughtfully expressed, not repressed or controlled by others. These expressions work to our advantage while we have the beauty of a sound mind. We, like the seeds, have no control over whether our thoughts and feelings fall on open or closed hearts, on fertile or infertile ground. Why not role model openhearted communication to share our legacy that lives in the moment, yet becomes a gift to generations?

Pandora’s Box is nearly empty with the fullness of self-understanding and gifts from the life-death cycle. Together, we share oneness of destination, framed by unique style.


Inwardly speaking: Have gratitude for questions posed, life and death explored, and insights learned in this lifetime.


© 2015 Barbara L. Krause