“Death must be so beautiful.  To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence.  To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow.  To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.

— Oscar Wilde

Ninety-two years.  Just think about it.  Take a minute to reflect on it and then realize that if you live to be ninety-two you will have had 48,355,200 minutes to stop and think, to laugh, to love, to work, to play, and to be the person you were born to be.

The last communication I received last night was from my friend, Mary.  Her dad, Luther, completed his ninety-two years on Earth at 6:15PM on January 23, 2011.  Although I’ve never actually met Mary or her dad, our online friendship has included me in their story.  Today I find myself pausing and reflecting on the life of a man who is very real to me by way of his daughter’s love for her father.

I know it seems cliché to say that the moment we are born we begin to die, but it is true.  What is also true is that that moment we are born, we begin to live.  And so we spend our years — our months, our days, our minutes — living and dying.  We know that our time lies strung between a beginning and an ending.  We learn the dance by watching the cycles and seasons of life loop through winter to spring, to summer, to fall, and back again to winter.  Life, death, and rebirth become apparent to us as we dance through our minutes; and as our steps begin to slow, we find comfort in the knowledge that spring always follows the silent winter.

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

— Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a remarkable woman, a shining beacon in a world that sometimes seems over-run with darkness.  With her example to light the way, I would like to take a little time to pay tribute to the role of the feminine — mothers, grandmothers, daughters — in our dance through life.  I mean no disrespect to the many caring, loving men I know who do similar work; but today we are talking about a daughter’s love for her dad, and that will be my focus.  It is no coincidence that Teresa was given the title, “mother.”  The first time our eyes blink open to see the world, we find ourselves gazing into our mother’s eyes.  It is the mother whose arms enfold the tiny baby and keep him safe and warm.  It is the mother who nurtures and nourishes the small child and sees him through his journey to adulthood.  It is the mother who touches our hearts and opens them to loving another person.  For most boys, it is their mother who is their first true love.  For girls, it is their mother who shows them by example the depth of the divine feminine ability to love and care and nurture.  From mother to daughter to granddaughter, on and on the circle goes; and often it falls to the women to be the guides along the path of life.

Mary, my friend, you have brought Mother Teresa’s words to life.  You have learned well to care and love and nurture, just as your mother did it — and her mother before her.  You have carried the generations of love with you through your own childhood and your own adulthood and mothering days and finally brought the full fruits of patience, love, and compassion to the latest minutes of your own father’s life.  It is a beautiful thing — a holy thing — to be the stopping place, the hospice for another human being.  It is beyond beautiful to be able to share that space wit your own parent.  You and your family have succeeded.  You have surrounded your father with the generations of loving that are your family’s heritage.  May that heritage live on today as you embrace one another and comfort one another and acknowledge the love you have offered that now returns to you.