sunrise I received a call this morning only to find out that a close family member of mine has been diagnosed with cancer. Patricia and I went off to a quiet café to be with our thoughts, and we discussed how it somehow felt easier to contemplate one's own death than that of a close loved one, and this surprised us both a little. In thinking more deeply about it and in asking for help to see this differently, the following thoughts came to me. Although it might seem a little direct, maybe even harsh or upsetting, they brought me a great deal of comfort and clarity. I felt I was being asked to take things to another level, and the source of the thoughts felt very kind and understanding. I always express these types of thoughts in the first person though that is not really how they appear in my mind. Basically our question was why, if Love is there for us, does it seem harder to part with some people than with others.

Oneness is that state that calls us unceasingly to remember that we are all the same, all one, and this place of oneness is not physical but entirely spiritual. While we feel attracted to this vast horizon of perfect sameness and tranquillity, a part of us is deeply unhappy with the idea of losing the perception of differences. Why? Because in my world of differences, I feel alive.

The way I keep this world alive in my senses is by disturbing the sublime oneness-horizon with variations and changes. I add to this inner flat countryside with an event that shakes me up, leaving me frightened or ecstatic. And a hillock suddenly appears. A range of low hills manifests when a bodily condition takes over and leaves me on medication for a long time. Then an entire forest, deep and mysterious, emerges when I begin studying a special new field of thought or science. An ocean comes into view, waves rising and crashing on the shore when the stock market becomes the central focus of my life, and the world economy carries me into a vast whirlpool of fear and excitement.

But the most extraordinary and extravagant of all the topographical features in the landscape of my life are the vast and magnificent mountains that soar above all the surrounding flatness, causing all other events and circumstances to pale into relative insignificance. These mountains are my relationships. The people I cherish and hold in my heart and mind create the sense of life that I seek, that I live for. They give it meaning and substance. Without them, life would be flat, dull and hardly worth living. So speaks my individualized self.

When I feel the pain the disappearance a loved one might cause, what I am confronted with is my deep desire, even need, for this person to be vitally important to me. I weave their smile, their laughter, their support, their tears, their kindnesses, their heartaches – everything about them I integrate into my sense of ‘life’. And their passing away would seem to remove a firmament in life as I experience it.

In reality, this other person is not the source of my happiness, or of my inner stability. But this is the way it feels. Can I learn to see that I have a choice?

It is a challenging moment when we face that clear choice – what do I want to be true now? A life that can be altered, shifted and unbalanced under my feet, as the vagaries of health determine who lives and who dies? Or a Life that remains constantly embraced within an eternal Love that knows no change or blemish, no diminishment or lack? This is the choice between a pure and perfect, stable and all-encompassing horizon, and a chaotic and erratic landscape subject to violent earthquakes and destructive volcanoes.

My friends and loved ones are part of the landscape of my life, this is true. I love them, and I will miss them when they are gone. But perhaps I can learn to smooth out the bumps, knowing there is beneath these mountains and hills, these forests and seas, a perfectly calm and serene Ocean. I can rejoin with this Ocean whenever I wish, following the bright star of Jesus back to that place which remains for all of us our true Home, stable and perfect, eternal and kind. That is where we are all indeed joined as One, and not in this ephemeral world that leaves us sad and lacking.