In the Canal Zone, near Fort Clayton, there is an old cemetery, filled with the graves of Panamanians and Americans. Some of the graves are very old. One afternoon, in 1998, I walked through the cemetery, thinking about the life I had known before, remembering the old faces. They were fine people; I never
knew how fine they were until I'd lost them. It had been in its way a life of soaring spiritual passion and adventure, globe trotting in the company of aspiring saints. Now there was this petty life grubbing for money, working among strangers, people who were so different from me in every way, and I was so strange to them. As the afternoon rainstorm gathered, I sat down under a mango tree, among the whitewashed gravestones, while parrots scolded overhead, and for the first time in many
years I cried hard. I cursed God. I cursed my life. Above all I cursed the small, frightened person I had become.
I was weeping for my own death, with an honest sense of grief. I had been a certain person, passionate and serious, devoted. I had known a simple life where the basics of survival were taken care of by all of us together. And it was gone. And the people were gone. Most of all – that person, that incarnation I had been up until then was gone.
I am in this life now, as I live it. This is another time of difficult transition and a sense of dying. Sometimes a sense of weariness. A person has to find a path. Something consistent. We are always dying. That is the secret of life. We are always changing from one person to another, I’ve had so many incarnations in this one life. I’ve grieved for myself a couple of times. Why can’t I grieve for others?
Back in The Old Days, in that particular incarnation, the one that died in the cemetery in Panama, we were taught to pray with tears. Tears for the suffering of God. Tears for our sins. Tears to accomplish whatever project we were unworthy to do but were doing anyway. I remember weeping with repentance for having lost my virginity before finding my religion. Now this seems strange to me, as though weeping at discovering I was a man. It would be easy to look down on that way of life, but life is a moving stream, a river of events, good and bad. We are different people bound to absorb our experiences and our tears.
Whatever God or life force imbued this blue rock in space with teeming life had only one clear goal – that life should survive. Life does not resist chaos and randomness, evolution had used the continuous turnover of sex and death to bring randomness into the mix. It absorbed and used the creative force of contingency and chaos to create such a variety of life that no matter what happens to this planet, no matter what you do to it, something is bound to get through. I’m thinking these days, absorbing within the laughter and tears, that this is how the soul evolves as well. Not by resisting suffering and pleasure but by equally opening the heart to both.