The Pull of Tides
I don’t know how that works
The pull of tides
But yes it all comes back to water
A vast body of water which
Though salty too
Is too big a metaphor for tears
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”
This is the second of a two part blog post, telling the story of my recent experience in Panajachel, Guatemala (where I live). The experience was one of belonging to a group of the friends of a dying lady, cierta Victoria. The group’s raison d’etre was a mission of succor. The story told of how I’d come to be in that group, and how in questions of dying, we confront real issues such as why are we here? What is the nature of truth?
As Cummings poet once said, “A lot of sweet bull like that.”
First I want to mention the photo above, taken by Victoria. Aside from her visual art, Victoria was an accomplished photographer. She had a show I went to, at the local art gallery here in Panajachel, denombre La Galeria.
I chose this photo because it made me think of Victoria at the other end of the camera. Because I think one of the best skills of a photographer is the ability to elicit a moment from the person being photographed. My best friend here (Here’s a plug for you, Dani!) is a painter, art restorer and photographer denombre Daniel Casimiro, currently employed in the Basilica of Esquipulas,* which famously houses the “Black Christ,” a sculpture hundreds of years old. Dani’s job there consists of the restoration of five hundred year old religious paintings, also housed in the Basilica. He can make a ripped canvas look new with the entire painting restored down to the original artist’s singular style.
I mention Dani because (as also, a photographer, who has exhibited in Spain) his charisma or whatever je ne sais quoi which a photographer has, puts his subjects at such ease, that it just radiated all over the place in his photos.
Just as Victoria’s photo (seen above) also does.
What trust and even amusement were in those little girl’s eyes. Victoria lives on in those eyes.
As I mentioned last week, I had gone on too long with my own responses to Victoria and with recounting the story of how I had bonded with her, and how that accounted for my joining this group to succor and support her while she was fading from this world.
And the last week’s upshot was that there wasn’t room in a single post, to also recount the to me inspiring story of her final passing (as related to the rest of the group, by Kelly, one of the group who was present):
I’m writing today with sadness in my heart. It was a great honor and in many ways a beautiful thing to have had the privilege of being there to see Victoria out of this world yesterday. Right until the end, I was blown away by her strength and her beautiful, sweet soul. I’m grateful for the way things all came into place at the end, to make it a peaceful, safe and loving space for Victoria to leave us. Thank God, the lovely and good Dr Cordon was available to come and showed up pronto. Victoria really liked him and it was a great comfort to have him with us. He was really sweet to her and calm and kind. Ling, lovingly sang Victoria out of this world to a mantra that Victoria had taught her. She was surrounded by people who loved her, Nicole was there, helping her go, holding her, soothing her. Medoh had been with her all morning, Elisabeth and I were there, Elisabeth held the phone to Victoria’s ear so that Sally and Toby could say good-bye. It looked to me like she visibly softened and let go after that. She started to look more peaceful and less scared. It was a good passing. With each mantra that Ling sang down upon her she let go a little more until with a tear, she softly left. I hope I am as lucky when my time comes. Thank you so much to Victoria’s family for all their kind, loving and generous support of their sister. You did everything a loving and responsible sibling could do and always with compassion and respect for Victoria. It was also really nice to get to meet you all. Robin tells me that she and Diana where doing energy work with Victoria as she was going and that they saw birds. At the moment at which she died the birds were singing up a storm and Victoria was surrounded by her own exquisite paintings of birds. I see her flying right now, free and happy. Thank you Robin and Diana for helping us on this journey. Everyone has been amazing. Elisabeth, right now still on the way with Victoria to the city, Robin is accompanying them. So much legal stuff to attend to, bureaucracy and crazy rules and crazy makers. The kind of thing that makes me run for cover. Thank God again for Elisabeth who is doing her best to deal with it all. And Loida who came running in after Victoria left us, with all her cultural know-how and wisdom, saving us all from Social, cultural blunders and taking over all that needed to be done with great initiative and love. Where would we have been without Loida. So, now I’m going to go to ground for a little while and let this all sink in. Love to all and many, many thanks,
And here is what Ling sang to her (with which, remember, Victoria was already familiar, it being Victoria who had taught it to Ling):
Om bhur bhuvah svaha
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasa dhimahi
Diyo yona prachodayat
May the Divine Light of the Supreme Being Illuminate our Intellect
To Lead Us Along a Path of Righteousness
I also want to include what two in the group had sent me, inspired by Victoria’s passing:
It was one of those intense dreams that can occur after one has woken up early in the morning and then gone back to sleep.
I was in a building that was very similar to Marianna’s Guest House in the City where we stayed with Victoria. I came up a short flight of stairs and had a jacket and tote bag in my hands. As I came to the second floor there was a desk with a nice middle-aged woman in a white dress sitting at it. I looked at the door of the room where I knew Victoria was and the door was open. The woman at the desk stood up and smiled at me. Gesturing with a wave of her hand, she said, “Go on in. She is waiting for you.”
I placed my jacket and tote down on the floor beside the door and walked into the room. It was sparse, but bright and there was a large bed with lots of pillows and a comforter on it. It looked so very comfortable and inviting. Victoria was sitting on the edge of the bed in a pretty blue dress with flowers printed on it, her hair combed. She looked so lovely and healthy. With amazing energy and a smile she got up right away and came over to me and gave me the most heartfelt hug and said, “I want to thank you so much.” I started to cry on her shoulder, but she broke away and doing a little twirl in her pretty dress exclaimed, “Look at me! I’ve put on some weight!” And, indeed, she had.
As I wiped away my tears, two women came out of an adjacent room, both also wearing white dresses. One was quite a bit older and the other a bit older than Victoria. They didn’t say anything, but I knew that they were Victoria’s mother and grandmother. They were calmly organizing her things and it looked like they were all getting ready to leave to go somewhere. Then Victoria turned to me and said, “I want you to meet my little ones.” I turned around to look expecting to see a couple of children, but for some reason I could not see them well because they were so very, very little. Then Victoria said to me, “I have to go now.”
And here’s a poem written by Elisabeth (Our fearless and peerless leader)
I found in the dance of
the jaguar and me.
Spinning, twisting, jumping
deLight who is this being
swinging with me to the
rhythms of the Trio
on into the night?
Hours later- revealed
my partner Victoria/Victorious
Years later- revealed
my heart broken open
as she passed.
God be with you,