Reading a piece about rebuilding a temple in Tibet, I'm struck by a few sentences that resonate more deeply. They seem to say a lot of what I feel these days.
They say when you study the alchemical paradox, you can go mad. The ubiquitous-yet-unknown "they" are right, for it allows you to stare at the hideous contradictions that arise in human culture and life as though through a microscope. My spiritual community definitely has a couple, and it's my inability to sit with one of them and hold space with it that really is at the root of my discontent.
My friend actually knew she was dying. Not her main personality, I was told not to tell 'her' but one of the others was very forthright about it, in her non-human way. While I was living in Vegas over the winter, I spent as much time with my friend as I could bear, as I knew it would be our last times. There was a period of time when she was calling people from her past, people she had not spoken to in years. She apologized for stuff she knew she'd done and stuff she knew she didn't. She was making her peace before she died.
Some people had great phone calls with her. Some people cried with her, realizing they would never talk to her again. A few got some stuff off their chests right back at her. (Apparently she really liked those calls) And some decided to not return her calls at all and shun her. That last behavior came from members of the actual Vegas community, not people she had been estranged from for more than a decade, but people who actually spend a lot of time talking about community, and how great their community is, and how their community always meets its members needs. People she thought were her community.
I'm going to go to this memorial and wind up listening to someone talk about how special and wonderful my friend was, knowing full well that the speaker shunned her utterly and would not even take the time to hear my friend speak. After spending several hours with my friend, holding her hand while she sobbed, asking me why they wouldn't even return her calls, while all I could do was sit there and think about how I was going to talk to them the very next day. I totally get why she used to sneer "all are welcome, all are one....unless you don't agree with us." She was absolutely right.
When I have people telling me they are going to met my needs, and they are the people who shunned a dying woman they had known for decades, I have to leave the table. I didn't sit with her for hours, hanging out in the midst of a hoarder heap of Goddess-knows-what and art supplies and strange food, watching her dig into her skin with jewelers tools because she thought she extruding plastic, for fun.
I sat there because this person was my friend and they needed me. I sat there because when people die, you get what you get, and I wanted more than anything to make sure she knew we were friends even as it got ugly and painful and scary. I wanted her to know that being with her, even if we weren't doing something, was what was most important to me.
I'm okay with all this. Blessedly, I reap the benefit of this lesson now. I will not be learning as I die that my community doesn't respect me and isn't actually there for me.
Metal, heated by fire, then pounded, gets stronger.