Being alive is such a privilege. This becomes clearer to me every day.
Recently, I was at Muir Beach in Northern California with my daughter, Meera and Amy, a dear friend of mine from New York. We went in the early evening, a time of day when the light was simply exquisite, shimmering gold and orange, still warm and yet, not too hot.
Amy is pregnant with her first baby, her belly beginning to blossom with fullness, and she had asked me to take some photos of her. We began doing the shoot down at the far end of the beach, by the rocks, with the clear blue sky, and the glistening ocean behind her
We were fully dressed since we were not planning to swim, and we got so involved in doing the shoot that before we knew it, we’d been devoured by Mother Ocean.
She gobbled us up, and all three of us were laughing, playing and getting totally soaked, our wet clothes sticking to our bodies. My 8-year old daughter Meera dove all the way in squealing with glee, and it was one of those incredible moments where our bodies were tingling, the sun was shining, the waves were crashing and the tide was slowly coming in.
We were three humans dancing, jumping, shouting and giggling. We had merged with the cold, foamy ocean water. There was an instant where we all looked at one another in celebration and shouted, “Yay!!! We’re alive! This life is sacred! Thank you!!!”
It was a moment of recognition, where we were simply and utterly alive!
It was precious, heart-opening fun, which truly felt like profound nourishment. We’d been ravished by the Pacific Ocean, embraced by her primordial depths, and as we watched the sun going down behind the cliffs we all knew we’d shared something special, a kind of intimate communion with nature.
There are those moments when you know you are lucky to have been born, where you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can trust life. This was one of them...
The next day, I had an experience that radically contrasted this moment of delighting in the aliveness of being and yet, was equally potent. I had the honor of meeting with a client in my counseling practice who has been battling Leukemia for the past two years and is walking on the razor’s edge between life and death.
Straddling the line between life and death is a powerful moment. It is a moment of being tested, of being invited to embrace what is arising. My client is essentially house bound with little energy to do much of anything, and is often in a lot of physical pain.
The simple actions that we usually take when our bodies are strong to assist us in returning to health are not working. Her body is deeply depleted. She is no longer spending her days frolicking on Muir Beach as the sun sets. Her heart is beckoning her to dive into a more internal experience of what it means to be alive.
I witness her as she willingly moves into a new kind of alignment with her body and soul. She breathes deeply, feeling all there is to feel, as she opens into what is now being asked of her. Her resilient spirit is being stretched thin, like a well worn silk scarf, and I can sense her exhaustion after two long years of facing the challenges associated with this devastating illness.
And now, what is being asked of her is to trust and surrender to the truth of what is. As she gently turns toward the end of her life, the invitation is to find peace amidst the pain of letting go of all she holds dear.
As I held the space for her to be with all of this, it was clear that we were treading on sacred ground. We were walking into the terrain of the heart itself.
The heart has many ways of calling us home, of bringing us into the poignancy of being alive, from moments of oceanic rapture to life-threatening illness. What I know to be true is that both are sacred, both are equal and both invite us into a palpable sense of what it means to be present, human and fully alive. Both are the call home.
This piece is from 2015 but never made it to my blog. I am including it now as it is one of my favorite pieces and I want to share it with you all.