Every now and again my mother would come out with things like this. It’s an excerpt from an email to one of my sisters, which the same sister later read at my mother’s funeral service:
An email from Mum
“I promise you on my honour that I NEVER dwell on gloom, despite what you believe! As I sit here working, every flicker of light and shadow of the silver birch on the wall opposite the window gives me surges of intense pleasure.
The fact that people are dying, who may be relatives or friends, is to me an intrinsic part of “living”. The ‘tristesse’ – somehow a better word than sadness – that that creates intensifies the pleasures of being alive.
That probably sounds like sentimental rubbish to you, and I have expressed it clumsily, but perhaps you can understand what I feel.”
I came across this again the other day while clearing out some papers and it struck me with some force: there’s a whole lot of Buddhist philosophy in there! – Don’t dwell on the past but enjoy the wonders of the present moment – suffering is part of life – without suffering there cannot be happiness – And I’d never noticed any Buddhist Sutras on her bedside table!
“The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now… You don’t need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.”~Thich Nhat Hanh
Watching the silver birch shadows on the wall, I think my mother understood that.