I do not sleep.
I stood by the cluster of trees watching, as he, in his mud clad rubber boots, walked on the winding path to the flat basalt rock. He edged the sod by hand and then knelt to peel it back preparing the ground for a small grave. On this second day of fall, there was a brisk chillness to the morning; the sun was hidden behind the 100 foot Cedars, a slight wind was edging its way through the tall timbers and there was an uncanny silence that stirred awareness to the privacy of the moment.
His hands, soiled from the rich dirt that lay beneath the forest floor, lifted the basalt rock once again to cover the grave’s opening.. Before he left, he paused; his body was folded as if he was in prayer.
The morning merged into the afternoon and the sun warmed the skies and filtered through the Douglas firs that bordered the labyrinth. Sitting on the rock’s edge was the Cellist, Violinist and the Vocalist; their music was rich in symphony - parallel to the beauty of the landscape.
We gathered at the Labyrinth’s altar where small votives candles and a cooper bucket with seasonal flowers adorned the natural rock structure. Her children, one by one, provided a flame for each candle giving honor to their mother and manifesting their devotion to her - a custom that dates back to the eleventh century. It was a fitting symbol of her spiritual relationship with God
With their hands folded around a lone flower they continued the journey into the center of the labyrinth – its sacred space.
The silence was heavy.
Standing on the west mound, I called upon my strength to give voice to the words that were to be spoken in celebration and honor of my dearest and most beloved friend. … speaking to the symbolic journey of love and respect that spanned over the many years of her Life…..
When my voice went silent the vocalist began her performance of "Ave Maria" and the rest of us pace fully walked to the labyrinth’s entrance.. With a chosen flower in hand we made our way on the spiral, meandering but purposeful single path, that lies in a space 30 feet in diameter.
The reddish-hued salt urn, housing the ashes, was placed in the small grave and the large basalt rock was angled to cover the opening.
We paused and let the stillness of the moment enter our hearts and settle our minds.
A Native American Poem then lifted the silence:
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint in snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
As we placed our flower upon the memorial rock.. the Vocalist accompanied our travel out of the labyrinth with the lyrics “Wind beneath my wings”. Tears released from our hearts.
The wooden cross was sighted as we reached the exit .. it felt symbolic of the peacefulness and love that enveloped our hearts. I stood motionless and turned to face the center taking a moment for reflection.
I notice my husband now standing alone on the east bank of the labyrinth. Eyes brimming with tears, he was gazing into the sky…sharp beams of light was piercing through the age old timbers… I recognized his emotions. He looked like a man who had been privileged with a great honor. He had fulfilled the promise to our beloved friend.
He gave her to the glacial mountains of Mt hood where she will be amongst the deep canyons of fresh water lakes, sheltered by beautifully aged cedars and in the sanctuary of Eden’s labyrinth garden where her spirit will forever be.