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sunset -retreatjpg My friend Elizabeth died yesterday morning at 4:00am. Another friend called me to say she woke at that time, that she felt her friend saying goodbye to her. Her husband sent a beautiful announcement out on the website. I was sad all day after I heard, feeling the need to reach out to others who knew her. She was a quiet person, quietly doing what she knew to be God’s will – an immigration lawyer who helped thousands of people, raising two sons, one challenged, having her aging missionary parents live in her basement,a loving husband, church member. I liked her a lot, liked that she didn’t sugar coat how hard it was to go through this, to leave everyone she loved, to let go of her work. But she did. We all do. If we don’t let go, we are “dragged” as they say! We have to let go, to accept the impermanence of everything, all relationships, all the beauty and transitoriness of flowers, clouds, sunlight, babies, ultimately of life itself.

Somewhere deep in my heart I do believe, and experienced in ’94 when I almost died, that the “other side” is good, more free of the physical suffering, the delusions, the struggles. And there are billions of people who have gone through what we all face. It’s the “not knowing” what’s ahead, the many pictures of the dead, cold bodies we leave, the pain in those left behind that we know. But we don’t know for sure what we face….I want to say “personally,” but Buddhism is helping me understand that that is the ultimate “letting go,” of SELF, of our notion of separate, individual being. That I will no longer be the ME that I have come to know so deeply, to love, to hold onto and protect, to work so hard to understand her history, her relationships, her mission in life, her work, her loves? But that is the source of our suffering the Buddha says, to cling to the notion of the separate SELF that continues even after death.

So, do we become truly “ONE” with all others, with the sun, the moon, the stars, with unimaginable beauty, goodness and delights that we have tasted only in a limited way, seen “as through a glass darkly” on earth? Or is that the notion I grew up with in my Christian days, looking forward to a “heaven” that would be so different from life on earth.

Can we start to do that NOW, in this moment through meditation, letting go, loving as deeply as possible, mindfulness, being in this moment in which is all of human history, all goodness, all life, all beauty, all great art. LIVE NOW! Try to make each moment as wide and deep and rich and beautiful as possible – not only for “ourselves” but for all the people, the earth, the beings we touch today. Celebrate my niece’s wedding today. Lead a great, healing Day of Mindfulness at Blueberry Gardens tomorrow! YES
YES, says my heart. YES!

LIFE is NOW! HERE and NOW! My friend lives on in my heart NOW! My sadness and joy are one, in the here, in the NOW.



  1. Thank you Joann for your reflection and inspiration. Who knew that letting go turns out to be holy.

    • Thank you, Luella! You are one of my “letting go” teachers.

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