Guarding the Dead: Sitting Shmira, May 2, 2015/ 13th of Iyyar, 5775

4709897522_4cd96a4554_bThese words are being written in front of a man who is dead. The words that you are reading now were formed in the presence of his body in a coffin, and in the presence of his spirit, I believe.

What has happened to you, my friend? The simplest thing in the world, a return to your component parts. What is extraordinary, a miracle, is that you defied this elemental eternity for a while, that you stood up and walked around, had thoughts and feelings, loved and hated, and were loved and hated. You did things, things that still feed back actively in the world, maybe forever. I don’t know. Beyond my pay grade.

Your death is ringing. I am a bell and you, in your state, are a clapper. I’m  sitting shmira for the first time with you, my friend, and i will remember you for the rest of my life.

==May 2, 2015/ 13th of Iyyar, 5775, Daniels Chapel of the Roses, Santa Rosa, California

  2 comments for “Guarding the Dead: Sitting Shmira, May 2, 2015/ 13th of Iyyar, 5775

  1. June 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    It is indeed an honor to accompany the deceased body during those hours before the next step of their journey. Reading Psalms or other relevant words silently or aloud has more than one purpose in our tradition. It helps us connect with the quality of this transition time, both for the deceased,and for ourselves who will follow at some time in what we call our future. There are times also when my sixth sense tells me that this recently passed person can be comforted by one’s own words to them, in a kind of conversation defined by what is felt on the side of the living. It often helps me to know more about this person’s life – a short biography left in the room, if that’s possible to accomplish. From what little we know ahead of our own similar time/journey, we can still act as friends of the crossing by using our extra sensory abilities, both by listening and speaking, or singing. At the very least, our presence can be palliative.

    • June 4, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Robin, thank you for these thoughts. As a long-time hospice volunteer, I’ve rarely gotten a chance to take this step, and it was an honor, felt myself in the stream of Jews, and of humans. I was doing what I hope others will do for me some day, and I felt very close to this person I’d never met before. I did read Psalms out loud, and offered the soul companionship while it was here, and wished it safe travels to where it would go. Palliative, yes.I though of myself, and you and the others, as the keepers at the lighthouse as the spirit moved away from shore.