Seventeen years ago today my son, Chris, died rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, his favorite place on Earth. In the days leading up to the fall, Chris told a climbing buddy that from the moment he discovered rock climbing at the age of fourteen, he always knew what he was going to do. He was going to rock climb until the day he died. “It was the most comforting thing,” Chris had said, “to know that’s what I love and that’s what I’m going to do.”
That his death was imminent has never struck me as tragic, but as a beautiful miracle, wrought with the grace of God’s calling.
In the years that followed, I wrote the book, Freedom to Fall, as a tribute to Christopher. I would like to share a quote from the book in which I imagine him telling me what I need to know, in the way he had lived and died.
In matters of God, proof has no place. It does not matter, I hear Chris say.
It doesn’t matter if I knew or not. No sensing of future events can stand up to living in the present. I stood in the center of possibility—embracing this moment, reaching for the next, not knowing where it would take me. I was thankful for each day, and when I was dying I was thankful for all that I had been given.
There is no compromise when you live on this pinpoint in time. When you are fully alive, each day is a gift. You only need one. Each day is as much composed of essence as the next.
It was never for me to say when I might die. I am grateful for the life I was given. I am grateful for the freedom I have now. This is home, where I am close to God.
In this day of remembrance, I also would like to share a new foreword for the book. I could never find the right words, but at last they came—to orient readers not only towards Chris’s story but also mine, in learning to live without him and to redeem my life.
One day in September 2003, I received a message from my sister Diana saying she had something exciting to tell me. I couldn’t imagine. What could be exciting when my son, Chris, had died in an accident only three months before?
When we talked, Diana said she had been visiting old friends in St. Louis when there was a knock on the door. One of the people who walked in heard Diana talking about Chris.
“Are you talking about Chris who fell rock climbing?” the young woman asked. She herself was not a climber, but she knew about Chris. “People are writing back and forth on the internet about his death and what an awesome climber he was,” she said.
I was stunned. News and talk of Chris was spreading around the country, not only in climbing circles but beyond.
In the spring of that year, the shattering news had come in the night. Then on the wings of autumn, through my sister crossing paths with a stranger, I saw what I had to do.
I had to write this book—not to preserve Chris’s memory as a rock climber but to bring to life and to share his character as a human being.
Over the next two years, in the course of writing, I ventured out to gather stories from Chris’s friends. Many spoke of ways in which Chris had touched and even changed their lives. I especially sought the perceptions of his climbing partners. Through those contributions and my own insights, this vital portrait emerged.
Woven into the book’s fabric is the story of my grief. Interiorly, it was a time of upheaval, fraught with fragility and uncertainty, yet I trusted the process. Grieving, so very real, has sweetness and beauty; within the pain there is joy that illuminates our true nature.
The loss of my son led to a pivotal connection to reality and to God. That was the beginning of a journey into a truer life: an appreciation of this inherent gift, a willingness to rise above the clasp of adversity, a simplifying—to be attuned to and surprised by everyday garden-variety miracles.
Thus this is the story of two climbers intimately tied by fate, their paths crisscrossing in separate times and on vastly different terrain.
Through the pages flows an undercurrent of the understanding that came in the wake of my son’s passing: Only good can come from love. I sensed then that one day not only could I return to a life worth living, but I would be able to pass on to others that sacred truth. We may lose the physical presence of a dearly loved one, but we do not lose the essence of our relationship with them. Love rings eternal, and in loss, love is the saving grace.
To order a copy of Freedom to Fall, click on “purchase the book” above. For the latest printing, please order from Amazon.
Forgiveness sparks the soul—
when, in surrender,
I find strength to freely give
the love that God has given.
Love is for giving,
unencumbered by condition—
rendering blessed peace,
relief from stirring hunger.
May we truly spend this life,
with time still left to wonder
how forgiveness, humbly—
inspires the soul from slumber.
Turning from Presence, the path fades away—
until remembering, I follow,
intuiting how and where to step.
The wellspring rings eternal, finding entrance
as I peer through the entanglement—
to the radiance of fertile ground.
Presence lights the Way for eyes just awakened—
through the rowdy playing field,
up the still silence of Heaven.
Today is Chris’s birthday. He would have been 38. Our love remains, a golden thread spanning the ages.
Chris journeys through the sheer glow of Heaven. A rock climber in life, he now climbs unbound.
Happy birthday, dear son. I feel your humble spirit and the holy heights that beckon. May you drink from streams of milk and honey and be garlanded with stardust. You have my heart, today and always.
When attachment gives way to following, intimacy with the moment ensues—a sacred place, where meaning and purpose come through faith.
Following sparks a wellspring in response to God’s calling: This is the unfolding to which I yield; tomorrow is unspoken for. And while the course includes infinite outer expressions, it is an inner, intuitive following, unattached and free-flowing, that is the revered treasure. We remain ever the servant, deeply listening, stepping towards the unknown.
Journeying in the glow of the moment’s abundance connects us to essence. In the spirit of following, we shed definition and become seekers of truth, laying the ground for eternal life.
Meaning and purpose find fulfillment in surrender to God’s Will. In releasing attachment, we open our hearts and redeem a crucial aspect of ourselves—an abiding presence lighting the footpath, infusing life with grace.
Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life.” John 6-27. Life’s glory is not to be achieved but received through faith.
Today, my son, Chris, would have turned thirty-seven.
In the morning, I bought flowers and put them in a vase that Chris had given. Later, I stepped out for a walk, a glorious January day—windswept and brilliant.
On the walk I talked with Chris, feeling sublimely his presence. I told him that I was on the cusp of change, ready for a new life that would last until the end.
The breeze whispered, it’s time to let go of plans, ambition, and predictability to embrace life’s boundlessness. Time to step boldly into the unknown and be present for when guidance comes—to lay aside grievances and predilections, responding to what is given.
I thought about Chris in life: his courage, the gentleness and bigness of his love, the setting aside of “should” and shouldn’t” to pursue his dream.
I considered what I’ve always wanted. When may anticipation or expectation disappear, leaving behind life’s essence?
Surrounded by a January beauty I couldn’t contain, I heard: It’s yours for the taking, with only this moment as ground.
Happy birthday, Chris. Though you live beyond reach, your presence abounds.
Chris died in a rock climbing accident in Yosemite National Park in 2003. The following is an excerpt from my book, Freedom to Fall.
“I am going to live the free life,” Chris told friends on his last trip. He was an outdoorsman. He recognized his passion and pursued it. He knew he had what it takes. He lived simply, without fanfare. He revered nature. He was keenly observant.
Chris also meant that he was going to live life without a scheme. His life was going to be open-ended. He would go wherever life took him and partake fully in the offerings.
When Chris came to me on the second day after his death, he showed me that there are no divisions—not between life and death, being and doing, old and young. He showed me his truth. He showed me he was One.
I am going to live the free life. He meant he was going to live life without walls, in the fullness of light. He was at home in himself and at peace with the world.
It started with a robbery in my Costa Rican home. The swimming pool worker called me outside saying, “Have you seen or heard anyone?” “When?” “Ahorita” (now)! A minute later we were walking together down to the garage, hidden from the house by the garden, where he showed me his open backpack and empty wallet. He’d been robbed. By the time I reentered the house, my purse had been opened, my money gone. So that was the beginning of an interesting week, stressful goings-on interspersed with bright moments.
On the 3th day of the week, I fired my gardener after the demise of a few beloved plants, and Fernando, a humble, lively campesino, agreed to be my new gardener. (As an aside, the tropical garden, in its tenacious, jungle-like growth, overreaches my abilities, not to mention the complex relationship between flora and insects, especially ants. Ubiquitous and among the more intriguing are leafcutter ants, which march off with razor-sharp slices of leaves, as if donning sombreros, leaving behind long trails through the grass.)
On the 5th day, in the same breath as the big sigh of contentment for water shimmering in the pool again, after a month long repair, the pool and irrigation pumps broke simultaneously. No big deal except that the pool guy left town; with the end of the rainy season, the irrigation guy is too busy; I’m leaving for Colorado, and vacationers are arriving in swim suits. (Before you blink incredulously, as in Oh please! please hear me out.)
What I’m building up to is how God puts things in our way purposefully and constantly for our discernment. On the 6th day I awakened, looked around, and thought, Life is where you put your focus.
I thought about how I take little thing to heart and—shall I say it?—turn them into big things. I thought about how much more important the blessing of life is than the events. How just about everything is transitory: If you need a change, wait ten minutes. And how the one thing not fleeting is the one thing to live for: to taste eternity while you live—to feel alive in the moment and to trust that when you surrender, you will be supported, knowing that God knows you better than you know yourself.
Fernando, my new gardener, lives right around the corner. When I had asked him to work for me, he lit up. He could keep an eye on his cows across the way while gardening. He could come and go as he pleased. He could literally “brincar” (hop) from his house to mine. “I should have hired you a long time ago,” I told him, feeling equally pleased. “But now is the time!” he said, suggesting that everything is as it should be.
On the 7th day, I told God that I was ready to make good on the promise to live in His light, adding “as I can,” just in case…. But truly something within had settled, as if a sunbeam had broken through, awakening trust.
I was sitting down to breakfast when a large, colorful form moving about in the berry tree caught my eye. It was a toucan, scooping up red berries by the beakful— a sight I had not witnessed before on my property. That’s it! I thought. Life really is what you choose to pay attention to. And it was as though God were right there, winking at me. I tucked the experience into a place where special memories are kept, as an omen of good things to come.
Living from the wellspring of the soul requires standing still—to know the truth of its resonance and wisdom.
The soul is a wayfarer, bearing witness to experience, gently whispering: Give life passage, living the freedom of love, holding the crossings of paths in light.
In stillness, the soul lifts into awakening. Through life’s fleeting nature, we traverse as one, standing our ground in God.
Eleven years ago, my son, Chris, died on a mountainside, pursuing his passion. On this anniversary day, I reflect on the blessing of his presence—God’s precious miracle.
God may take a life but never the love, which is the gist of relationship. What brings joy in another is invisible, eternal.
The light of Chris has known my grief and helped me heal. To become whole again avows our bond, while granting God’s calling.
Chris encourages me to live in essence, staying true to my vision. His voice has the tenor of life; he is a child of my heart.
I feel Chris close on his day of rebirth—in an aura of sacredness, in a spirit of celebration.
On May 31, 2003, my son died in a rock climbing accident in Yosemite National Park. He was twenty-five.
After Chris died, I created a manuscript about his life, which included many poems. Later, the manuscript was culled into a book without poems. In remembrance, for the 11th anniversary of Chris’s fall, I am sharing a few of the poems.
Love’s Angel expresses the sense of Chris’s freedom following death. Growing Up and Reverie cast light on his character and love of life. The final unnamed poem reflects on my experience of loss as a whole.
Chris is Love’s angel,
such wealth untold;
I feel his sparkling Presence—
stardust turned to gold.
Love is not earth’s servant—
rather rapture on the wing.
Love flames mortal hearts,
then soars to hear seraphs sing.
Angels flit among us
like shining shafts of light—
Some linger but a moment,
then spiral into flight.
to Love’s sweet home.
I’ll know you by the ash
you hail from heaven’s dome.
Chris grew up and up,
an unwieldy clatter of bones
ahead of himself.
He was the tallest kid in class.
While playmates tilted
to tease or taunt,
he tied knots in their shoes,
and learned to laugh at himself.
At six foot five the kid settled in—
a slick, swift, lanky
gem of a guy,
though they say he couldn’t dance!
When others cracked up,
he’d jazz it up,
bobbing above the crowd.
Goofy or graceful, it was all the same.
Chris rolled with the rhythm of life.
Chris danced the elfin jig
under a crescent moon.
He leaped to touch the arc
of a rainbowed afternoon.
Live your life, forget the strife,
Whirl and twirl; be free!
The wind is heckling clouds,
and the sun glitters glee.
Chris juggled feathers
strewn by wayward flocks.
He gazed on nature’s splendor,
whistling on the rocks.
Laugh and play your nimble days,
tread lightly on the earth.
Rain is clapping; trees are sapping—
My love is full of mirth.
Loss is loss of pleasure—
the pleasure of a tantalizing smile.
But what is loss compared to love,
when love is all the good worthwhile?
Through faith, miracles work
to rouse the tender twinge to wing.
Through loss I probe that deeper well
to tap the silent mystic spring.
When Chris was 14, he discovered rock climbing. His brave journey as a rock climber and my climb from despair after he died come to life in the book Freedom to Fall. To order a copy, click on the appropriate link above.
After arriving at my second home in Costa Rica, it takes little time to synchronize with the timbre and rhythm of a tropical land, responding to the lure of its charms. Everywhere I see openness, humility, and hardworking cheerfulness—the blessed life of campesinos and “pura vida.”
Recently, a fierce wind toppled an imposing tree against the roof of my open-sided rancho, used for relaxing in the heat of the day and fiestas. My neighbor, Fernando, came to my door, and in his thick, almost indecipherable dialect, commenced telling me about it. He offered to chop down the tree, taking care not to disturb the bathroom window of the rancho, and remove it from my property.
The next day Fernando showed up with a machete, chainsaw, and son-in-law. As they worked, I watched from the edge of the rancho. Once in a while Fernando would look over and smile, commenting on the wealth of animalitas crawling over the limbs—mainly ants and spiders.
Fernando was not going to let the tree go to waste. With his machete he cut sturdy limbs into sections for a fence. The smaller pieces he threw into a pile along with chain-sawed hunks of trunk to scatter in his field, where the cows would trample and grind them into fertilizer.
A few hours slipped by, with the task of carrying off the unwieldy wood heap remaining. I told them I was going to pay. “Muy bien,” they said, but neither had a clue as to the worth of their labor. I drew out 10,000 colones, about $20, and asked if it was enough. “I have no idea; ask Diego” Fernando said. When I asked Diego, he said, “Ask Fernando.” I drew out another 5,000 colones, peering questioningly at Fernando. Fernando yelled up to Diego, who was on the roof of the rancho removing debris from the gutter, “What do you think about 15,000 colones?” “I have no idea,” Diego responded. “Bueno,” I said, and handed Fernando the money. Clearly, being paid for helping a neighbor was as perplexing as it was pleasing. “Any time you need help for whatever reason, call me,” Diego said.
To live on rich, fertile land among farmers who are the salt of the earth, whose days, though much the same, are filled with simplicity and grace, is to inhabit a slice of paradise.
I frequently see Fernando tending his cows. He brings over fresh milk and cheese. We stroll up and down the dirt path, chatting amiably. I feel rewarded when I can break through the dense Spanish dialect and get to the heart of what he is saying. Mainly, I love his sparkle and joy for life. We were coming to the end of the long dry months from November through April. He was bemoaning the fact that it was just so very dry, and his cows were suffering from the lack of edible pasture. With a stomp of his foot as if warding off flies, he shook his head and looked skyward. “We have not received a drop of rain, ni una gota! Ah, Dios, in God’s time,” he reminded himself. “I’ll pray,” I offered.
Soon the rains came, great blinding sheets that flooded houses and streets. Then all was right with the world again—that perfect Costa Rican balance of sun-streaked mornings and afternoon cloudbursts, turning the land emerald green.
I love the pristine spirit of the Costa Rican farmer, whose life, so close to the equator, is attuned to twin cycles of day and night. I’ll take some of it back with me when I return to Colorado. I learn here that life carries on in much the same way as it has for eons, in spite of technology and sophistication. What is worthwhile about life is ageless. It’s the light that shines through our eyes in the simplest of experiences, the native gladness in being alive without greed or design, the willingness to trust—qualities captured in lands where the campesino still thrives. “Pura vida!”—pure life, as the saying goes in Costa Rica.
Upon awakening, in communion with God, I acknowledge that my trials are not yet over. Peace and equilibrium are not yet perfected in this earthly life.
The field of contending forces is life’s natural bent, as I reach for the other side. Do not be discouraged, I hear, for this is the way. Heaven on earth exists, patient for your surrender.
The predawn quiet taps the importance of being where I am, accepting my place in the scheme of things. Alas, the journey begins with acceptance.
There are moments when “what is,” is the simple truth in which I live. Life settles; all is as it should be. Divine moments of blessed peace! Moments when I move with life, cherishing the privilege.
Amid the salutations of first light, I pray: Dear God, help me to accept life as it comes. Help me to remain calm, steady, and balanced in the face of disturbance. In a time of trial, help me surrender to thy Will.
Acceptance does not mean giving up or giving in. When stirred by life’s commotion, I embrace myself as I find myself, while calling upon God’s help. Through ministering thus, I create an opening to receive God’s light.
Acceptance brings surrender. In acceptance, we remain true to ourselves, giving God entrance to light the way towards Heaven.
After my son died, I wrote a book, Freedom to Fall, recording my journey towards surrender and healing. To order a copy, click on the appropriate link above.
I have embraced this life with all my heart, explored the breath of Earth, and still I long for more. The world has not bequeathed awareness of my Creator.
But from a precipice of crystalline panorama, wisps of cloud have caught my eye through shards of rainbow color, beyond Earth’s reckoning.
Before my mind can ponder, I leave this temporal sphere to soar, whereupon God, with sparkling laughter, catches me into the deep, buoyant net of Heaven. Home in Thee, my Lord; faith has no bounds!
Alone, I climb to Earth’s far edge and leap to pristine wonderment—until together we ascend, praising God as One.
To order a copy of my book, Freedom to Fall, the story of a son who lived without compromise and died following his dreams, click on the appropriate link above.
This is a rewrite of an earlier piece, more as a poem:
Moving with momentum through the still frames of circumstance, life acquires grace. Through time’s orchestration of ever-changing tones, I step to the threshold in a spirit of participation.
With God as Witness, I ask how best to serve: performing, listening, accepting, traversing, or simply giving love?
Life is magical when lived in stride—to feel God’s guidance, to live to see the light.
With time as teacher, I learn patience and surrender. Through time’s ever-presence, movement becomes seamless.
To move with time is to honor God’s gift. When circumstance prevails, there is a sense of something forgotten—until I remember: Keep the momentum. Go forward with grace.
Upon picking up my pen in the New Year, the words that came were: first thoughts are best thoughts.
On the first day of the year, I recall the verse from John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
These words are with me in the realization of what life really is. In beginning a New Year, there are resolutions and consideration for what I envision in a personal sense. But more importantly, I choose to follow a path of light. The true life is one in which God’s word shines through us—whatever the task, wherever we are.
The path of light is one of daily communion, an innermost place of giving and receiving. It is one of staying true to oneself, regardless of what goes on. It means “being in this world but not of this world.” It means time alone with God, though people and situations enrich us.
When we stand in light, following the way, we are guided each and every moment. Momentary existence may be for better or for worse, but there is a constancy that cannot be denied. When we find that inner vibrancy, there is joy.
The New Year means to me:
1. That I embrace the child within with love and devotion.
2. That I turn my life over to be used as only God can.
3. That life is not about searching but about following.
4. That the wish for myself extend to others: Goodwill and Peace, no matter the trials and tribulations.
The New Year brings hope and renewal. May a beacon of light guide your way.
This piece brings forth the memory of my teacher, Dawn, who taught me the gift of meditation. She once described meditation as “the space between thoughts.”
Each day at dawn and at dusk I settle into meditation, for the quieting of the mind, when concerns and details fade away, for rejuvenation and the gaining of perspective. It is a time of solitude, when I feel closest to God.
At dawn, God’s creative power finds expression in the awakening of life. In stillness, I receive that orchestra and the love behind it, awakening to the harmony at my center. At dusk, with the stirring of night critters, as birds sweep home, I slip again into that place of calm, beyond the world’s drama.
There is an inner place of balance that gives rise to our lives, where creativity is born. Without returning to that place often, we may lose ourselves to circumstance and forget who we are.
In creating balance, I abandon the affairs of the day to be with the eternal. Through the ritual of retreat, I begin to tread lightly, see the humor in irony, and to honor the human experience—a privilege, an opportunity, ultimately, a reclaiming of origins.
Through comingling with the sacred, I can allow the world to be. More attuned to wholeness, I release the impermanent, filling my cup with life’s blessing.
With meditation at dawn and dusk, all that has happened settles into dust—a time of remembering what is important and to give thanks.
In the winter of 2005, a friend was vacationing on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. He implored me to come, saying that I would be enchanted.
It was a life-changing week. Under the sway of sea breeze and tropical light, deep feelings surfaced and a marvelous healing. My son had died less than two years before. I want to live here, I thought, and vowed to come back.
That spring I returned to look for land. Another friend suggested the Central Valley, where it is cooler, mountainous and lush. He knew of a cabdriver who would take me around.
Each morning Mamo, the cabdriver, picked me up and away we would go, driving the back roads of the Central Valley, looking for property, knocking on doors. I bought farmland in the agricultural belt above the sweet highland town of Atenas.
The soil, planted in peanuts, breathed a rich reddish hue and sloped gently down toward tree-dotted fields disappearing into velvety green mountains—wide open country. Standing on the land, my heart opened up. I returned that summer to begin building a house.
In those early years of loss, while the field was being cultivated into a garden, I could feel Chris’s presence in an almost tangible way, as if he had led me there. The heavenly light of the tropics and a profound sense of peace pervaded my home. I sought a local sculptor to carve an angel in Chris’s likeness.
Seven years have passed since first stepping foot on land that promised a home. Today I was feeling a little sad, seeing how the garden, though glorious, has grown up, the treetops partly concealing the mountain vista, the peanut plants long gone. And there is development—street lights along the rustic road…. I thought, How in the world can you complain? But I sensed there was something else going on, as in, All of life is in flux, constantly changing.
The early years of loss was a magnificent time, in a way. There were years in healing; there is no description for a mother’s broken heart. But so dear and precious, so divinely inspired, as if God was right there with me. In the depth of my grief, I found Costa Rica. And suddenly, looking around at the garden, I was faced with remembrance, realizing life had moved on. An era had ended, the new one not yet defined. The feeling of peace still pervades, yet something has changed. Was I grieving the loss of those magical, albeit painful years, when an invisible thread connected me to Heaven?
I wonder where the new life leads. I have a precious daughter, the light of my world. There are cherished friends. Beyond that, it seems more to do with a mystical path. I dream of a golden life for the golden years.
This morning, before the sun peaked above the mountains, in the cool, fragrant air, I was having an animated discussion with my gardener, when I began listening to the pure music of his voice and native tongue. For a moment, I stood, utterly spellbound. Therein lies the path, I thought later.
Often I hear my son speaking to me, in the way he spoke in life, simple observations accompanied by that little chuckle. Mom, it’s easier than you think. It’s just little things that make up a good life. You don’t have to figure things out or even have a plan. You just have to be present for the unfolding.
Freedom to Fall is a book about the life of my son as a rock climber intertwined with my life as a bereaved mom. To read more about it or to order a copy, click on the appropriate link above.
If I could be in Heaven, looking down, I would see more clearly the importance of making every effort—for the sake of Spirit. In giving expression to Spirit, life gains grace. In truth it is who we are, our very essence and soul!
There is no finer task than keeping Spirit alive in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. While nurturing forth Spirit while there’s still breath, I prepare for flight to Heaven. When I get there, I’ll smile deeply, seeing just how important that really was, for the newly burnished quality of my soul.
Spirit isn’t concerned with circumstance so much as wanting to participate, to come forward from underneath the rubble of distraction. It is often the something lacking, when we wonder what’s amiss. Its ethereal quality can make it easy to forget, yet there it is—that which finds the silver lining and humor in disaster, goes the extra yard—and sparks forgiveness.
Spirit is a loyal friend, no matter life’s conditions, content to ride the wave of experience. In awakening it from slumber, we enliven the will to live. In keeping front and center the only thing that matters, we transcend space and time.
Conditions may wash over me. After all, tidal waves are real! But I can accept life with grace, knowing this precious anima is always here to serve. Let me rise time and again, in the face of difficulty or hard times, with enthusiasm, encouragement and steadfastness—with joy and love.
When I’m in Heaven, looking down, I’ll smile deeply, knowing that I took God at his word when He gave me life.
Excerpt from Freedom To Fall
There is something beautiful asleep inside of me. I’m given a lifetime to wake it up. To awaken the kernel of beauty, I must free the reins of resistance and surrender to the Way of things—as each moment comes to light and passes on. Otherwise, I will never get over Chris dying. I will miss the joy of wonder, never know the dawn.
There is something here for all of us, something to overcome. Chris didn’t plan to die young, but he sensed he would. He would never see tigers in the wild. There were mountains he would never climb and races he would never win. He wouldn’t grow old with people he loved. He could have clung to sorrow. Instead he chose to live.
Tomorrow lightning may strike. It matters not that the tree lives a thousand years and the moth a single day. What matters is waking up.
To order a copy of Freedom to Fall, click on the appropriate link above.
To walk the Path, one only needs to keep returning to the heart, free of complication and deliberation. To walk the Path is to allow life to be what it is: to be in this world but not of it.
There is a trail lined with dew-jeweled blossoms, the laughter of children in the distance. How do we reclaim innocence, away from the madding crowd? How do we walk with God and keep on returning as life pulls this way and that?
Today as I awakened, I heard: When the mind is troubled, keep to the heart. It leads you true. There is no calculation there, no clutter. The path is free and easy.
I came to this after a stormy night in which I had things to say to God for life’s plight. God, in His Mercy, did not even blink at my grievances. As long as words are sincerely spoken, God receives with infinite Grace. Just before retiring to bed, I asked for a sign that He had heard.
A light heart is good heart, as the sweet breath of earth after a torrential rain. Upon awakening, I felt the rejuvenation that only God can give. If God understands your heart, then you can be confident— through the morass, the snares, and ego’s sway—that the path opens again, pure and sweet with the morning sun. It’s always there. You only have to remember.
To read about my book, Freedom To Fall, click on the link, Morning Song Books.
After a lengthy preparation for my on-line seminar last week, it’s nice to be back blogging again. The seminar was about loss as a spiritual journey. But that fits into a bigger framework of life itself being a journey, one step at a time.
It’s always nice when you reach a place where you can look back on where you have been, maybe what lies ahead—a place of perspective, those special times when something has been resolved, completed, or there is more clarity. But that can be short-lived. Something else comes up, and then there you are, in the thick of it again, not knowing at times quite how to respond or what is emerging.
The Journey One Step at a Time
I love the idea of one step at a time and allowing God to lead—especially when emotions rise to surface or the mind becomes murky. I believe that everything happens for a reason. And if you are like me, sometimes the challenges are hard. God never gives us more than what we are capable of, and if we listen to what God is saying, the way is at hand and usually gentle. We rarely, if ever, have to accomplish a spiritual or emotional task all at once. Truly, God will take us by the hand and present many situations, with room to falter. The same lessons can be learned more deeply over a lifetime.
The main thing is to keep stepping, to be an active participant in life, in Partnership with God. God’s voice comes through the moment, arising from within and also from the world around us. God cannot help us, if we don’t listen and respond. When we miss an opportunity, it’s gone. But another one will come along.
No matter how hard the road can be at times, the stepping stones are there. Each step of the way, life opens up. Any problem usually comes from looking too far ahead or assuming where the path leads. What lies ahead on the spiritual journey is quite different from what I expect. That is, the result of following through with this challenge or that and what I learn from it is something I couldn’t have imagined.
I just love the journey, the fact that we can have a journey. That there is always a way to respond to situations that present themselves and expand awareness within ourselves. When there is struggle, I’ll often hear, Don’t give up and other words of encouragement. Lately it seems that I’m coming to a place where the more difficult tests are behind me. Or perhaps it’s only a temporary reprieve. We just don’t know what lies ahead, even though goals help guide. We don’t know the gifts that will be revealed along the way or the nature of having arrived somewhere on the spiritual map. It is a process of discovery, a true adventure!
Excerpt from Freedom to Fall:
Every instant is a possibility, every second a potential, until I respond. Wherever I step, potential becomes reality, the substance of my life.
I can live for yesterday and tomorrow, and that will be my fate. I can release the past without grasping for the future, and that will be my fate. Either way it is a life of my own choosing. I can keep to the path of familiarity, leading nowhere, or I can step to the brink, overlooking the abyss.
How can I choose to live with no knowledge of where I’m headed? What anchors me if not my memories and expectations? I listen. Step this way, now that, trusting the voice within. Leaving behind old themes, I begin to slip into sync.
To follow fate is to recognize that you cannot direct your life. No matter how hard you try, life eludes. You can stop where you are, settling in, or you can keep going, listening and stepping. You have to be willing. You have to be strong and brave. You can’t afford to lose another moment. To strive is meaningless. It is rather the absence of striving and the simple act of living that way.
Today I want to share the link to register for my free on-line event on July 10, 10:30, pacific time. If you can’t listen in then, it will be available for free until July 31. Just go to Hay House radio and to the title of my event: Freedom to Fall: A Spiritual Approach to Loss.
However, I encourage you to register for the live event, as it will involve interaction with listeners. You’ll be able to send in questions, and I’ll respond vocally on the show.
I am deeply grateful for being able to share my story for this seminar. I’ve always envisioned a day when I would be able to share with others my experience of loss, the journey it entailed, and the miracle of reclaiming the true bond with my son and my life. In putting together this program, I’ve come up with practices and insights to help encourage this journey in you. It can be the journey of a lifetime. It can change your life and in some cases, save your life.
Here is the link for purchasing a free on-line ticket that allows you to listen in:
I look forward to having you as guests on the program!
For the past month I’ve been writing and preparing for a live on-line Hay House seminar. It was supposed to air June 11 but was postponed until Wednesday, July 10, 10:30 PDT. This is a free event, and I will be sending out a link later for registering. You will be able to call in with questions and comments, and I certainly encourage you to do so. This event is important to me, as it is my response to what I was given after losing my son 10 years ago. Following is the course description:
Freedom to Fall: A Spiritual Approach to Loss
This course is about loss and the redemptive power of love. It is designed to help people navigate through the loss of a loved one in the best way possible, whether the loss occurred years ago or recently. This live online event will help you come to terms with a loved one’s death, finding the courage to let go while holding onto what is truly important. By making daily shifts away from the past and into the present moment, magic can happen that engenders healing.
My book, Freedom to Fall, is the story about the death of my son in a rock climbing accident and how I was able to keep our love alive, allowing me to redeem my life. This is not a love that clings but a freeing love that is joyful.
We will explore ways of cultivating a sense of a loved one’s presence after they have died as well as ways of letting go. The two go hand in hand! In those two practices you will be promoting a deep spiritual truth: Love is eternal. You never really lose who you love. Once you develop that awareness, it is yours forever—for the giving and receiving every day.
You can begin benefiting from this dynamic approach to loss today. By learning to keep alive the bond with a loved one, you begin a process of recovery. There may always be an element of sadness for losing someone you love. After all, loss is real. But a more profound reality can emerge through practice and faith—a beam of light shining through the loss, awakening invaluable gain.
After my son died, I felt intuitively that he was still with me, would always be with me. But that sense was overshadowed by his absence, the sense of loss. The deeper sense of our enduring bond would take years to develop, through persistence and faith. Chris was there, but in order to sustain that sense from where I stood, I had to become an active partner. I had to cultivate it, to keep coming back to it, to believe in it. Most especially, I had to learn to let him go.
Keeping Chris alive occurred through many and often wondrous ways, which crisscrossed and ultimately formed a cohesive whole. Today there is deep gratitude, knowing that through God’s grace we never lose who we love.
Love Burns Eternal
From the beginning, there were simply ways of experiencing Chris without any thought or effort. He had been a lover of the natural world, and I felt him in the wind, the brilliance of autumn, rainbows, and crimson skies, knowing his spirit could be many things. I spoke to him each day, telling him how much I loved him and how proud I was that he had become one of God’s own. I would look to him for guidance and pour out my feelings. Chris comforted me daily in my sorrow, whispering, Mom, I am with you always.
I recorded memories of Chris, vignettes about growing up, and collected stories from friends, traveling to places where he had lived. Through the hearts of others, Chris came to life in ways I could not have known him otherwise, enriching my own memories. Our collective tales formed a kaleidoscope of perceptions, capturing his essence.
Though it felt wonderful to connect with Chris’s spirit, I could not have sustained it without letting him go as I had known him. I would have kept drifting back to the sense of loss as the dominant, tangible reality. It wasn’t a given that I could let him go—having raised him from infancy. You revel in the aliveness of your child and the miracle of his being. Releasing Chris, accepting his death, came in many guises over many years, in little steps and with frequent backsliding.
Letting Chris go meant the willingness to live again. To dance again, run with the wind, embrace hopes and dreams—when Chris could not. It meant admitting I still belonged to Earth, with more to learn and more to give. It meant risking our bond, for in reclaiming my life, I feared his spirit disappearing, when all would be lost.
For the first anniversary of Chris death, I journeyed to Yosemite, the place that had claimed his life. On the anniversary day, I hiked Half Dome, circling the 4000 foot giant by trail. Standing high up in the elements, in the deep ethereal blue, surrounded by the granite wonders Chris had so loved, I scattered his ashes, releasing him to God.
The ways of keeping Chris’s spirit alive are with me still. I share my visions and the news of the day. He quips clear, humorous one-liners, as he did in life. I see the calm, smiling nature shining through memory. I see him in the serendipitous way of things and in exquisite cloud formations. I feel the joyous giving and receiving of our love. Meanwhile, I keep letting go, stepping back towards life.
God never takes without giving back a hundredfold. Ten years after Chris’s passing, our love burns eternal—a beam of light, becoming ever more golden.