Today we held the cremation of my mother's body. I thought it would be good to share the service we created in her memory, as an encouragement in both life and death on your own authentic terms. I'm writing this as I need something true and meaningful to engage with, so it can serve as a record of the day, and as a lovely way of simply connecting with you dear reader, one human being to another.
Mum's name is and was Norah O'Neill, but she was always much greater than any identity or name, I always called her Ma. Mum always did things her own way, imagine having the spirit, openness and strength to choose love over society, when she married my father, who was an Indian Muslim, back in 1963. That's four years before the Mildred and Richard Loving trail in the USA. Mum and dad travelled half the world in a minibus with us all in tow in 1970/71, then she raised us on her own after their divorce.
Mum and I had a lot of difficulties between us, but since my awakening to presence, the simple love that flowered in my own heart allowed her to experience a lot of new life too, as she felt safe and seen in it's perfume. We are all this love, and this life, but we believe and identify with our conditioning, so the world is a place of great suffering and striving for far too many people. Though raised an Irish Catholic, mum didn't want a priest or any strangers around at this time, and so with great gratitude I was both son and celebrant today. Mum had lived alone most of her life and so the service was absolutely private. She couldn't stand fakery, and found it very hard to trust people after the difficulties of her own childhood and early life. Yet despite everything her own spirit burned so bright always.
This is what we did:
Entry music at Chapel: (all music was stuff mum loved)
Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
As mum had given up on priests and church structures etc. we did a Christian Centreing Prayer Meditation for her. This is exactly the same as the presence meditation I guide people with, but with emphasis on Christ Consciousness and the love of God, instead of how I usually would point to it as Presence or as Life itself.
Reading: Excerpt from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Oxygene IV - Jean Michel Jarre
I Want You To Want Me - Cheap Trick
Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
To The Crematorium
Entry Music - Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Poem - St. Francis & The Sow by Galway Kinnell
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Reflective Time At The Coffin
I found that there was no thing to say, or no prayer that would suffice on the human tongue, and so we chanted OM, OM, OM in full breaths and voices, the original sound.
Silent Reflection with Hands on Hearts
I Was Born To Love You - Freddie Mercury (Mum's all time favourite song)
Follow You, Follow Me - Genesis
Here is a little video of photos of my mum, she always bought her clothes too big from thrift stores, but I hope you can see spirit and presence in her eyes. That spiritual fire, is my true inheritance. The parent is the bow launching the arrows of her children into their lives. And the target is life itself.
(The music is a little chord sequence that I'd had inside me for years. I recorded it in the week after mum's passing, and simply sang the solo over the top, while feeling mum's spirit as presence, and played what I sang. It's a humble little offering given truly.)