Deep Healing Waters

Last night, late into the night, but before midnight meditation, I re-read portions of the book, Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife, by Ann Linnea.

I read this book more than a decade ago I believe, when I was about to turn 40. I realize now, so much was lost on me at that time. There were experiences I had not had yet.

Ann Linnea, the author of the book, decides to kayak around Lake Superior during the summer of '92 after the loss of her best friend, and during a time she was also facing some critical issues in her marriage and life.

I thought of the book this morning down by the river after I finished my customary river prayers and meditations. The recent interest in taking up kayaking by different friends urged me to find this forgotten volume among my stack of treasured books.

During a particularly dangerous phase of paddling on the lake and coming close to losing her life, Linnea calls a friend from a pay phone and shares her experiences, her vulnerability, and her tears, to which her friend Christine, wisely responds:

"You are in some kind of race with time, with unbelievably harsh daily circumstances. You must paddle with the questions that will most help you awaken into the next phase of your life. Your pilgrimage is to find the stamina to endure these questions, in addition to everything else you're enduring...

You have left the shore of what you think you know about yourself, your life, your relationships, your direction, your purpose. You must ask God more deeply than you have ever asked: Who do you say that I am? What do you want me to do?"

These poignant words come in a chapter entitled: "SHE-WHO-FINISHES-GRIEVING." At the end of the chapter Linnea movingly recounts the last time she visits her friend as she lay dying of cancer, and in a coma:

"When I reached Betty, I felt under the covers to find her hand and bend to kiss her cheek. Touch. Yes, touch. She is real. She is the same woman I love...Rested in the security of our togetherness...And then the words came...

Betty, you are the best friend I've ever had. it is you that has made me alive, who has opened my heart and brought me amazing companionship. There are so many good memories between us. We have lived together so passionately....

I am going to try as hard as I can to be worthy of that honor, to love more deeply, to live more deeply. But I am going to miss you very much...

I know how much you like to sing. I wanted to sing you the prayer I always sing to the children:

Mother we thank Thee for the night
and for the blessed morning light,
for health and food and loving care
and all that makes the day so fair.
Help us to do the things we should,
to be to others kind and good.
In all we do in work or play,
to be more loving day by day."

Then Linnea invites her friend to let go, and with one last breath she does, surrounded by family and friends.

Linnea then realizes, that she had felt so alone from that point on, but now, on this journey, as she connected with her friend's spirit, she knew she was still alone, but no longer lonely.

I ended that chapter, meditated, and went to bed last night, realizing, there were new insights in this wonderful book that once again spoke to me at a very different period in my own life. I thought of the book, and so many instances in the pages that I resonated with as I sat by the river this morning in the gentle breeze and the warm sun. And the I remembered a message given by a dear friend on so many instances: We are never alone.

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