Do not stand by my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond’s glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripening grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004), Poem 1932
That lovely poem (often wrongly attributed to Native American origin and tradition) reads like a prayer or a hymn. This is not surprising since true prayer and true poetry both come from Sacred Space. It was recited this past Saturday as we celebrated the inspiring life of a dear friend who left his body shortly before his seventieth birthday and his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. He was a nature lover and we approprately celebrated his life out-of-doors at the Hanoke Japanese Gardens. Our friend died of chronic leukemia.
Throughout the fifteen years our friend lived with dying, there was nary a complaint. Even in dying he was true to his core value, thinking of – loving – others. Among his last sentiments was the hope – the encouragement – that the lessons we’d take from his life were to live with equanimity and to live hugely, kindly and consciously.
Also read at his Celebration of Life were St. Francis’ Prayer and The Buddhist Metta (Loving Kindness) Sutra (guidance), which was written in similiar spirit as St. Francis’ Prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
– St. Francis of Assisi
Like many of us today, our friend combined the wisdom of several traditions to create a spiritual life that worked well for him. Raised a Catholic he took seriously the injunctions in St. Francis’ Prayer. He also valued the similar life philosophies of oneness, stewardship, non-attachment and respect for silence found in Buddhist scripture and practice and in Native American spirituality. His daily practice was Buddhist for Buddhism is indeed the master of meditative technology.
In memory of B.K.S. xo
May all sentient beings find peace.
If you are viewing this in an email, you will have to link through to the site to enjoy this beautiful and peaceful video with a Metta chant put to music. It’s sung in Pali but offers English subtitles.