Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Soul's Day and my brother, Ron

My brother has left this world and is now a saint in heaven. I woke suddenly in the night and was up for a while. I learned next day this time coincided with his death.  I remember  years before hearing my mother’s voice and seeing my mother and father reunited when I closed my eyes in the taxi,  on the way to the plane. I'd been called to come to Ottawa as my father was on his last legs.  When I had  arrived  there, I learned then that the time of my ‘vision?’ and “hallucination?”, in the taxi on the way to the airport, was the exact time that he ‘passed’.
I remember long ago my ex  wife,  an identical twin,  collapsing with pain at the same instant her sister took ill thousands of miles away.
My brother was a believer,  all his life, once a powerful Christian involved Baptist youth groups and   the Billy Graham movement. Later he rejected organized religion because of church politics. He nonetheless maintained a faith in something more.  Today, he would be called ‘spiritual but not religious’.  Before he died he did not know what awaited him. Yet when I spoke to him of my transcendent dreams of our father at a river leaning against a tree waiting for him to cross, he said that he too had many dreams like that of Dad  these last few days.
I loved reading the neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander’s recent book, Proof of Heaven.  Dr. Moody’s studies of people who had near death experiences was particularly illuminating.  I’ve always liked the bardot idea of the Tibetan Book of the Dead with a cast of characters agreeing to play a life together each of us taking different roles, explaining that uncanny sense of deja due and the feeling sometimes that I’ve known a person before but in a different role.  Reincarnation is the norm of the Old Testament and remains present in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. When Constantine made Christianity a state religion the references to reincarnation were played down but they still remain, not in a backwards sense but in a forward developmental way.  Life seems to have this learning aspect for me like the kindergarten analogy so poignantly made by Dr. Scott Peck
My native friends believe that their relatives are living alongside them in a parallel world. Certainly String Theory allows for both God and the Multiverse.  I have no sense of finite.  My consciousness is dynamic.  I might well be ‘saving the appearances’ but its equally consistent to posit infinity.  I loved Hamlet’s soliloquy in which he says “To Dream that is the Rub”.  For death seems to the external observer little different from sleep yet the questions arise in the subjective sense.  It comforts me to know my brother has not ‘ended’ but rather ‘passed’.
He remains alive in the fondest memories I have of him. He was my protector as a child , my best friend and through out his life my greatest inspiration.  As a child I remember him making me grilled cheese sandwiches, I thought him so very smart and wise and mature being able to manage the magic of hot food.  He was like my mother and father when I was young.  I couldn't even operate the stove. Later I watched as my brother faced and surmounted the greatest of challenges.   Always he kept his sense of humor.
He had an amazing curiosity about the world around him. He was a scientist too and a businessman. His eye for nature and sense of timing was unsurpassed. I will always cherish that about him as it helped him capture the best of  birds and animals and flowers and outdoor scenes in photographs.  He was happiest with his family and next to that with forest, lakes and streams.
I feel him near as I ‘ve so often felt the nearness of those I’ve loved and lost. They are lost to me for now but I pray and hope that we will be reunited in heaven. I loved the Robin Williams movie," What Dreams May Come" and Mark Twain's,"Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven."  My mother taught my brother and I to pray on our knees to Jesus.  As we slept in the same room as children,  I heard his prayers to Jesus as he heard mine.
Loving my pets who have died, wonderful dogs and cats, I believe too in Rainbow Bridge. I imagine my brothers dogs, Tartan and Rain, bounding towards him as Dad takes him in his arms and hugs the great man his son has become. My mother, humble and kind hearted would wait for Ron to turn to her and then the two would hug, mom's eyes tearing as they did when she was brimming over with joy.  Mom and Dad and Ron and dogs barking and bounding around them in circles.That's what I see.  It’s what I have to look forward to too.  That, and the glowing brighter than bright light of Jesus.
And we walk to the light.  My aunt and grandmother and grandfather and uncles and friends and all of us reunited moving as a family and community into the arms of the Great Shepherd.
Today is All Soul’s Day.  Samhein is the time of Celtic Festival when the harvest is done and the cattle are brought down from the summer pastures.  It’s a liminal time when the worlds of this life and the after life are closest and souls pass easily between.
We thought my brother would die earlier this fall as family gathered a couple of times in uncertainty. Now I know my very smart brother uncannily chose the easiest passage.  Canoeing together he’d time the crossing for the safest shortest passage.  Other canoes would be floundering in wind and waves but he’d bring us to shore safely.  He was a consumate boatman as my father was before him.  No wonder I ended up a blue water sailor with such examples.  I have no doubt he will journey across the space between.  Alternatively the time was chosen for him.  This meeting of letting go and coming together.
A friend called me the night he died and invited us to attend Compline with her and her son. So there I was again in the most beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, where I was once baptized by Dean Peter and Bishop Michael and  where I had so many times prayed on my knees.  This time I listened to the chanting and recited the Lord’s Prayer in community.  To myself I  talked quietly to Jesus about my brother Ron.   I prayed for his peace.
His loving wife Adell, that day,  had told me that he was sleeping mostly.   He was taking more morphine for the pain.  We all knew the end  was very near. I’d been with him the week before when he told me all he wanted was his family near. I watched  hold the hand of his one true love, Adell. They had known and a life time of the deepest love.   Their love was a Song of Songs/   I remember when Ron met Adell he was transformed and the two together radiated.  His life took on meaning then.  I remember Adell as a beautiful but very strong girl and the two of them as inseparable from the beginning as they were at the end.
My nephews, his sons, Graeme, Andrew, and Alan,  are the very finest of  men.  I can only admire them.  I wonder at the power of genes seeing so much in them I've seen in cousins from Canada, the US and from Scotland.    They were born with this innateness but the love, education and examples of Ron and Adell have brought out the best. I love them dearly.  
When last I visitted brother and I talked for hours in the night of things we’d not spoken of since adolescence or younger.  Always woven through the fabric of his very existence was his love of Adell and his love of family.
It’s All Soul’s Day today.  How fitting.  Again, typical of my brother’s exquisite sense of timing, the skill that allowed him to capture just the right moment in a bird’s landing with his camera. All Soul’s Day is the Christian festival that commemorates the faithful departed.  I look forward to church tonight.  Tonight I will sing hymns of praise and give thanks for the greatest of gifts, my loving brother Ron who was so kind, so good, so wise.  Thank you Lord Jesus.
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