2023 - August - Gazette - Surrender Your Soul
Surrender Your Soul
A couple of weeks ago, I stepped onto the deck of our cabin at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. It was early morning and the sun had just risen from behind the mountains. The scene was a picture perfect postcard. I looked through the pine trees to see the turquoise glacier-fed lake against the backdrop of the blue and purple shaded mountains. The view was breathtaking.
I sat down and took in all that I saw. After a few minutes, I took a couple of deep breaths, closed my eyes, and started practicing Centering Prayer, a surrender form of meditation. I felt the pull to be fully present and a part of that moment. My prayer began with silently repeating my sacred word until it dropped off and I was resting in love’s embrace. As is often true in meditation, a little later my mind took me for a ride and I began to pay attention to what my ears heard, or in this case, what they didn’t hear. The wilderness there was so vast that there weren’t even any bird sounds. It was silence. Silence except for the low roar of a waterfall off in the distance.
I returned to my sacred word and again rested in love’s embrace. More time passed. Then my mind paid attention to another sound. This time it was a bird. Even with my eyes closed, I could tell the bird was flying closer. I opened my eyes and the next thing I knew, that bird flew right in front of my face, so close that I felt the flutter of his wings. Maybe I was sitting so still that he didn’t realize I was a living creature. Once he made that realization, he quickly flew away, landed on a branch of the pine tree, and looked at me. We stared at each other and I experienced a feeling of recognition, like we both belonged there. A little later, he flew off.
My heart was full and I began to journal. Here are some of the insights I considered:
The sound of the waterfall reminded me of my soul. It’s a roar that is always inside of me; I only have to silence what is going on around and listen to what it has to say.
My interaction with the bird made me think of staying awake and paying attention. Instead of going through my day in an almost sleepwalking way, recognize that I’m fully alive, and notice as much as possible – come from a place of wonder and awe.
The word soul means different things to different people. Many religious traditions believe in a soul but have different definitions of what it is. Possible names include the body of light, the breath, your true self, the eye of your heart, and the still, small voice within.
Whatever your beliefs, I encourage you to surrender to that deep place. The root of the word surrender means to give back. Give yourself back to your true self.
This becomes very important during grief and loss. So much changes when you lose a loved one, but one thing that never changes is that deepest part of you. Grief is the healing; a spiritual journey that takes you into your center. And it can be a painful journey to get there, but one that might help you find your unique voice.
After losing her young son, Mary Forrest Engel wrote: “Grief makes you do some seemingly weird things. Or maybe grief makes us behave in a way that is our truest self, because every impulse I had felt completely organic.” We invite you to join us at our various programs where it’s safe to be your truest self and be organic:
- A Walk with Grief in partnership with Centre Region Parks & Recreation on Tuesdays, September 5 through October 10 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at local parks.
- Monday’s Moments Virtual Gathering on Mondays, September 11 and October 2 from noon to 1:30 p.m..
- Stories of Loss In-Person Gathering on Tuesdays, September 12 and 26 and October 10 and 24 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Juniper at Brookline, 1950 Cliffside Drive, State College.
- Virtual Grief Healing Circle on Wednesdays, September 13 and October 11 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m..
- Monday’s Moments In-Person Gathering in partnership with Centre Region Parks & Recreation Program on Mondays, September 18 and October 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Sunset Park, 850 McKee St State College
- Death Café Virtual Gathering on Mondays, September 18 and October 16 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m..
- Med-Knit-ations: Knitting Our Hearts Back Together in partnership with Centre Region Parks & Recreation on Tuesdays, September 19 and October 17 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at Tom Tudek Memorial Park, Pavilion 1, 400 Herman Drive, State College.
More information can be found on the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page of the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712, or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.
Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant, and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.