This Sunday I’ll be conducting a memorial ceremony in my garden with a couple who learned, heartbreakingly, that their son would not live after he was born. He was born, and then he died. We will remember and ritualize this passage; we will light incense, stand, chant and cry together.
I am so honored to keep this family company now and forever.
This matter of loss – death– of born and unborn children has been circulating around me of late, and that tells me it is time to take a look at it for myself. All next week I want to share with you writings, customs and practices that can help us face our unfathomable grief. I will be doing a service – a chant – every day next week for this baby, and for every child, unborn or departed. I offer this because of the perfect accident of having a Jizo statue in my garden. You can read more about Jizo here.
If you have the name of a child you would like me to include in my services, please note it in the comments, which you can make anonymously if you prefer. Hereafter, I’ll be conducting children’s memorial services on the first Sunday of every month, and I will include all the names you send. Please consider forwarding this to anyone you think would benefit. The world moves in mysterious ways.
Just the utterance of names and sounds, you see, begins the transformation. Nothing else is required. Nothing else is possible.
And while I will find things to say in my future posts, little I say will likely be as full or rich as this, the inspiration I found lying open in my hands last night:
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
the whole of the flower, the whole of
the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower, the truth
of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.
– Zenkei Shibayama