Now I know you must be thinking, ‘what on earth is Pie doing picking such an odd picture!’ I picked this picture because it is from a T.V. show I really like called Work of Art the Next Great Artist. The challenge was for the artists to take a really hideous piece of art and create it into something beautiful. Michelle created this piece. She chose a really ugly wooden carving to work on. At first I had no clue what she was going to do with it. She proved me wrong. She painted the carving to look like marbled gravestone and then she created a skeleton out of paper. When she explained to the judges what her artwork’s story symbolized I was absolutely mesmerized.
“I kind of had this immediate vision that this really devoted woodsman. He’s like, ‘I know I am going to die so I’m going to put this statue in my favorite place in the woods and then when I am dying go crawl to it’.”
For some reason this artwork and her story didn’t leave my head. I loved how she captured the beauty and peacefulness of the transition from life to death. Someone who has lived such a long good life who wanted to return to their favorite place on earth to rest forever. Soon after watching this episode I read a story that had a very similar quote and message. I jotted the quote down on an old envelope and it has been sitting next to my bed for months.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” (Life In the Woods)
I guess what I love most about these two quotes is the idea of returning to the earth after ones life is over. It’s a really beautiful process. I never thought of death that way. Death had always seemed like a dead end, or a solid wall with nothing on the other side. I now know that isn’t the case. What if death isn’t an ending? I only know how to live how can I fathom dying? Now let me make this very clear, I have no intention of dying anytime soon. I just don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to spend nights worrying about death. Wondering what it will be like on the other side. I believe that when I die God will come down to wherever my old body is and he will take my soul and he will show me to the gates of heaven. You might think that is corny…but honestly I would absolutely love to hold God’s hands and walk with him. To be able to see him and feel him protect me. Maybe to say it in a less corny way I will tell you another story. One of our good family friends was telling me a story about this man who didn’t believe in God. One day this man’s daughter was on the roof and she slipped and died. The family was a mess. They had just lost a piece of themselves. One night the man saw his daughter’s ghost. She told him that it didn’t hurt because before she hit the ground God caught her. It’s okay if you don’t believe in ghosts but to put it more plainly, when I die I want God to catch me.
A few weeks ago my Grandmother died. My family from all over the country flew to the funeral. It was amazing that we all came together to celebrate her life. I will always treasure this time with my entire family. It was insane how many people came to the funeral. She had left a huge fingerprint on the lives of many people. It was an open casket service, and I am not going to lie….I was really scared to see a dead body. I don’t believe I have ever seen someone who is dead. Once again it was like a wall with nothing on the other side. When I saw her I wasn’t terrified. I wasn’t wanting to run away. She was just so peaceful and beautiful. The hardest part was that I kept expecting her chest to rise and fall. I am so used to life that even when witnessing death I was holding onto life. I kept thinking of life as this pod, a pod that started out very small and underdeveloped. Over time this pod grew and grew to its full grown form. Then it would start its descent. Its body would slowly start to be tired of this continuous growth. Requiring lot’s of energy to survive. It would peacefully start to use less energy and plainly it would start to die. Once the pod had died it would return to where it began in the earth. I know this is a really weird image but it’s just what I kept thinking during the funeral. My Grandmothers body had lived out its full life. Using ever bit of energy it had left. That’s the way a life should be. I felt so connected to heaven during her service. We had a singer who had the most beautiful voice sing during the service. I swear I could feel the heavens open up and her voice rise like sunlight to heaven. It was like a parting of the clouds and I could see a magnificent woman and man dressed in white staring down at the church. I can’t explain it. Just the idea of someones life who was linked to this old church was so captivating. This is the church she had been going to ever since she was a very little girl, she was even married to this church. Where her casket lay was the same spot where her husbands casket lay when he died and where she stood on her wedding day many years before. I felt so blessed to be able to get a small taste of this relationship she had with this old church. She went on this journey through life and this church came with her. I want to have this relationship with a church or with the earth. I want the earth to watch me through my life. Watch me grow and learn. Watch me soar and crash. Then when I was old and weary return to the earth.
“I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the river bed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better” By Mary Oliver
I have no idea why but all of these quotes are about forests. I want to use up all of the energy I have on this earth. I don’t want to be afraid anymore, and I don’t want you to be afraid either. My heart hurts so much for the kids who have been less fortunate than I have been. People who struggle every day to hold onto this life. While I, who also have to struggle, in comparison have a walk in the park. I want to live deliberately. I love this life. I love living. Lately I have been trying to not rely on tomorrow and just focus on the present. I’ve been noticing that everyday I am preparing for the next day. I have to prepare for school. But what if school is cancelled because a pipe explodes? What if my tennis clinic (which I am always excited for) is rained out? What if the event you planned for that day doesn’t end up happening because you get sick? I want to start letting life do it’s thing. I want to enjoy everyday of my life. I will pray to God that he will control my life. Because he should be the driver I need to go along for the ride. We all live out our lives like we are in charge of the show. We aren’t. We can only control our thoughts and our actions. We can only control ourselves to a short extent. If you get the flu you can’t control how your body heals. I need to stop trying to change what is out of my hands. Don’t be afraid of tomorrow. Don’t be afraid of life. Embrace it even when your days on this journey are hard. I am not afraid anymore. I am excited to live. Let’s get this party started shall we?