I have often thought that one reason for religion and spirituality is to grapple with the mystery of those no longer with us. How do we explain the power those we loved have over our lives, even after they are gone from the earth? Their presence continues on in some way, guiding us in how we, the still living, carry out our lives. My human, mortal self longs to understand the world the dead inhabit, and for a deeper connection to the world they left behind.

 

The day Grandfather died, he came to life for me,

woke up from murky memory, grew colorful in

stories.  The world – it grew larger, too, drawing

me deeper in and around it, connecting me

to the rhythm of life, not just mine, but others,

family, living and dead.  It was as if Grandfather’s

matter was reaching out to me, holding me closer

to the earth.  I have not been to the Ganges,

where his ashes float with those of others in my

family I have never known.  When I do, I will ask a

pundit waiting on the banks of the river to look

in his book, and find record of all the names of

my family brought to the river.  All

mixed in there, in the silt at the bottom, at the

muddy banks, flowing in the currents are the

dusty remains of my family.  I will cup that water

in my hands and feel the flow of relation running

through my fingers, and know them as my own.

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