THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
A tire. Your eyeball. The moon. A donut. A steering wheel.
The answer is: they are all circular. The question I sometimes pose to my stroke patients is what do all these have in common?
Sometimes after a stroke or some other neurological condition, it is difficult for my speech therapy patients to see such relationships, and even more difficult to verbalize the answer.
If we add the word LIFE to the list above, we may struggle for a moment to fully acknowledge the relationship. It, too, is a circle.
Unlike the list of objects in the first line, life, however, does have a beginning and an end.
Just like I said it might, the baby came soon after I posted my last blog. Moments after I hit the publish button, we got the word that they were on their way to the hospital. At 11:02 p.m., exactly five hours after I posted, Finn Matthew was born, and we are grandparents again.
He is perfect, of course, and his mother—and father and sister are doing well too.
The circle begins again.
The days are getting cooler, the sunlight is waning, and my skin is drying out—again. Mercifully, the trees are giving us a few weeks of beautiful splendor. Mother Nature is showing off once again; a grand finale before she puts them to rest for the winter. They spend the next five months or so in dormant state, making plans, thinking, rejuvenating, resting and renewing.
It has taken me a long time, and it becomes a little bit easier every year when my beloved summer has gone, but I, too, try to make the most of those dormant months. I know the Great Circle will bring summer back; it seems to arrive more quickly each year as I age. In the meantime, I think a lot, make plans to be carried out when it is warm again. I try to rest and renew.
The darkest nights always give way to another sunrise. The storms always clear and calm returns. The cold may last six months, but the heat always returns and bathes us. When the wind, ice, lightning and rain take away, the human community always bonds together to give back to those who are suffering.
The circle continues.
Where one life begins, another ends.
Finn entered the world a week ago, adding to our family. My family has grown, and at the same time, Gail’s family is preparing for a loss. Her beloved mother-in-law is not expected to survive much longer. Her illness has progressed, and their family is saying a sad goodbye.
Finn arrived into the world from a quiet, dark place, into a bustle of noise and lights, strong hands, and a complete lack of familiarity. He soon met his mother, father and sister, and the circle inched forward.
They hold him, care for him and feed him, but most of all, they love him. The entire family gathers. It is so easy to greet a baby with such acts of love.
When the circle of life nears completion, the same thing happens. The family holds them, feeds them, cares for them but most of all, they love them. The entire family gathers. The roles are reversed, and the family prepares for loss, not gain. It can be a very hard act of love to prepare to say goodbye.
I believe in Heaven. I believe there is a place beyond this earthly realm that is free of all evil, a place that is an unfathomable, fabulous evolution of love and the human spirit. I believe these two elements of mortal life must carry on in some way. They are not accidental or secondary by-products of human life. They are why we are here.
I respect your beliefs if they do not agree with mine, but for just a moment, please suspend them and think about this point my mother made about death many years before her own: if babies could choose to stay in the womb where it is comfortable and familiar–not that they could–they likely would. If they did, however, they would miss this incredible world that awaits them. The transition from womb to birth may be painful, but it is necessary to move on. Such is birth.
We don’t know what awaits us after this world, but if we could choose to stay here–not that we could–we would miss out on something so spectacular that is far beyond any life here, even if the crossing over painful. Such is death.
We are given perhaps the tiniest morsels; small tastes of the beauty that may await us:
Another perfect circle.
Opposite the beautiful moonrise is another beautiful sunset at the closing of another day.
And, as promised, it is always followed by a splendid beginning to yet another day.
Another perfect circle rising.
My daily Word of the Day arrived in my inbox moments ago. Atemporal: without limitations of time.
We measure time in seconds, hours, days, seasons, years; lifetimes. Each one begins, ends, then starts again. We know no other means of measurement.
Except when we say hello to a new life, or say goodbye to a loved one. Time stops for that one moment; we are not limited by it.
And then we go on.