“What you have loved you can never lose.” – Helen Keller
About a week before my sister passed away, I was dancing with her in her kitchen in a dim light. I asked her to focus on her breath as I focused on mine. Together we danced as the spirit filled and danced between us. It was like a golden cord encircling us. I told her when her physical body was no longer here on earth that the breath would be my reminder of her loving presence and her eternal spirit. On October 5, 2017, I climbed into her bed one last time. I wrapped my arms around her cold, lifeless body and wiped a dried tear from the side of her eye. I kissed her forehead and held her hand one last time.
A week later I stood in a packed church and said her eulogy. I spoke about the three things that remain after a body is no longer with us. Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love. Love remains…once and for all eternity. I ended the eulogy with a meditation. I invited each person to presence. To breathe together the breath of life. I invited everyone to close their eyes and bring their attention to the light of their soul. When we connect to our own inner light, it automatically connects us to the source of life and to one another, both those in heaven and on earth.
I invited everyone to think of a time when they felt loved by my sister Mary. I immediately remembered floating in the ocean with her as we celebrated her last birthday here on earth. As we floated under the big blue sky with the light of heaven shining upon us, she hummed peacefully. She was at ease. I believe this is what heaven is like. No more pain, no more sorrow, just floating effortlessly on the river of love, one with God and all of creation. As I remembered this moment, my heart felt Mary’s love in real time. This is the mystery that God reminds us of. Heaven is hidden in the hearts of those who believe. That means we always have access to heaven and those we have loved and lost remain always in our hearts.
The other day I was missing Mary. I rode my bike in the beautiful fall colors and gentle warm breeze. I rode up to the top of a hill that is a sacred resting space for me. I sat quietly and gazed at the river while my heart invited the presence of Mary. I wrote her a letter and expressed how much I wish that she was here. I have been struggling, and I need her wise counsel. I need her hugs. I want to hear her voice reminding me that it’s going to be okay. I want to have a Moscow Mule with her and laugh until I wet my pants. I want to dance around the campfire and play charades and make s’mores. I want to hear her laugh again. After finishing my letter, she wrote me back very quickly. She reminded me that she is here. I believe it. I feel it.
Being present in nature is one place I am always welcome to remember, which orients me to the eternal love of God.
Nature is always changing, as am I, yet somehow it remains the same. I know that when the last leaves fall from the trees, I will grieve the loss of their beautiful covering. I may dread the impending doom that the cold of winter brings; however, I transition and feel all the feels. Suddenly, I am at home in winter. I come to a place of rest and learn to celebrate the slowing, the turning in. I watch the snowfall and receive a gentle reminder that life carries on, even in the dark cold days of winter.
As soon as I find the groove and settle in, a shift happens. Imperceivable at first, suddenly life is bursting forward in every direction. I let go of the safety and groundedness of winter and welcome the new life spring ushers in. As the earth shifts, so do I. Spring invites change, and I am being invited to new life, joy, and freedom. Hope begins to grow in my soul. Before long, the bright summer sun takes up a more permanent residence. I play in the long summer days and enjoy the warm, starry night skies. Full circle moments remind me of the mystery of grace. Everything is always changing, yet it stays the same.
I feel the cycles of nature deep in my being. I surrender to the ebb and flow of life‘s ever-changing yet somehow constant ways. Just when I get comfortable and settled into one season, I am challenged to shift and grow. It hurts to grow! The ache of my soul calls me to drop in and connect with Mary and God‘s perfect eternal love deep in my heart. Whether sitting at the top of the hill or nestled on the couch by the warm fire light, I remember Mary’s loving presence and I am whole—once and for all eternity.
Jean Masukevich is a trauma sensitive yoga teacher and integrative coach with over 20 years of teaching experience. Her mission is to guide others to greater mind, body, Spirit integration and connection to their authentic self. She cultivates communities of care where individuals and groups heal and share their hearts and stories through movement, writing, meditation, integrative prayer, creativity, and the sacred art of listening. Jean holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith. Jean serves both children and adults and is available for in person and remote coaching. Contact her at Sowthatjean@gmail.com.