Beginnings and Endings and Beginnings

There is a sacredness in being present at beginnings and endings.  These bookends of life, as well as other milestones mark the course of one’s days.  We have no control over when we are born.  Beginnings are pretty much out of our hands, much like the great beginning of this expansive place we call the universe.  We are born into its realities and complexities, and remain largely unaware of them until we are faced with some other beginning or ending: the end of childhood, the beginning of adulthood; the end of the single life, the beginning of marriage; the end of spiritual isolation, the beginning of a spiritual walk; the end of ignorance, the beginning of wisdom.

An indelibly etched beginning for me was the first time my father asked me for advice.  I was shocked, overwhelmed, and speechless.  Another beginning I remember was the very moment I realized that faith was not about fear, but is built on love in response to the love given to us first.

I remember the first time I really fell deeply in love, from first kiss to final embrace, and the years of pain that followed when that relationship fell apart.

I remember the moment I realized that I had likely found the woman I would one day marry.  It was not the giddy butterflies of infatuation I harbored – oh they had been around, make no mistake, and even return on occasion to make me feel young again.  It was a realization of and respect for my equal, yet opposite self, the one who could truly be my complement.

I was there for the birth of both of my children, and I recall their first cries.  I went with them to the nursery and spent time talking to them, getting to know them, introducing them to the wonder of life here in their first introduction to the great unknown.

I remember the beginning and ending of my many years as a student.  If truth be told, then that phase of my life has not truly ended.  What may have been the formal formative years may be over, but they only opened the world of learning to me, and I continue to assimilate, absorb facts, but more importantly understand.

The ending we all fear and indeed misunderstand the most is death, and not all deaths are equal.  I was at my mother’s side when she passed away, showered and encompassed with all of the love her family could bring, and it was rich, and it was warm, and deep and in the end peaceful.  She began the next adventure of experience for the human soul, as we began the experience of temporal life without her.

But for a child to die at the hands of a gunman whose mind is distorted with irrational thoughts, with pain, and rage is often more than we who take the time to care can bear.  To die young of neglect or by violence of any sort, as in war, being used as a pawn to further this political ideology, this goal or another makes the shortened life all the more tragic.  To die by one’s own hand, the victim of one’s own tortured mind is among the most tragic and misunderstood deaths of all.

All such endings seem like such sad things, but they are only passages from one reality to another.  Life is change, and to remain the same is to no longer truly live.  If we could view, and in some cases maybe even celebrate an ending as the beginning it truly is, we would see that there truly is no end, no cause for sorrow or anxiety.

Transitions are difficult.  Not one of us remembers the moment of his own birth, the shock of breathing cold air, the loss of security of being cradled and nurtured by one’s first great love.  It must have been difficult, indeed.  These transitions are portals to the unknown, leading to mysteries to be marveled at, and challenges to overcome.  We are knit and molded of stuff as old as the universe.  No matter what, our substance will go on.  Our spirits, our souls that spark, that drive, that animate us beyond the animal consciousness cannot be quenched, moving from reality to reality.  When we realize that, a new beginning will have sprung fresh from the ending marked by that realization.  We will have changed.  And it isn’t so frightening, after all.

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