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By Alan Seale, November 10, 2020,  Surrender

Walking my mother home. I first heard similar words from the beloved American spiritual teacher Ram Dass“We’re all just walking each other home.” Before these last two weeks, I had a certain understanding of those words—we’re walking each other through life, accompanying one another on our learning journeys, supporting one another in coming home to ourselves. Yet these last two weeks with my mother, Mary Dudley Seale, have brought deeper and richer meaning. 

I had the great privilege and grace-filled blessing of walking my mother home—all the way to the crossing point where then I could accompany her no further. She had to take the last step across on her own—into the embrace of my father, of her God, and of countless loved ones whose close presence I could sense from the other side of the veil during her last hours on this side. She took that last step on Saturday afternoon, November 7th.

Perhaps you have had the privilege of walking someone home. All the way to the crossing. Being with them for every last step. And if not, I wish for you that gift at some point in your life. I have been blessed to walk both of my parents home, first in 2010 with my father, and now with my mother. With my father, I was only with him in his last hours. Yet with my mother, I sat beside her for her last six days. The gift of these days is even more precious during these COVID times when so many people have not been able to be with their loved ones in their last days. 

Walking someone all the way home is an extraordinarily sacred, beautiful, exhausting, light-filled, sometimes frustrating, ultimately heart- and life-opening process. I experienced all of those things, often several of them at the same time. The process had to unfold in her time, not mine or anyone else’s. 

We floated together in a liminal space—a space where she was no longer here as she had always been, yet she had not yet crossed over into her new life on the other side. In that space, she was rarely able to find focus or strength for words. All I could do was be present with her, hour by hour, holding her hand, caressing her face or rubbing her arm, and telling her I loved her. On one level, it appeared that nothing was happening. And yet so much was happening for both of us.

When she struggled to breathe, I could only offer reassurance that she was alright—that she was on her way to meet my father, her beloved Jim. There was no longer any part of her process that I could do for her. It was her journey now, on her terms. And it was going to take as long as she needed for it to take.  

And then suddenly we were there. We had arrived at the crossing. With her last few breaths, she took her last steps across. And then she was gone. Her spirit had left her body. It happened so quickly and peacefully. Within minutes, her body became an empty shell and her spirit was flying free. Liberation was accomplished. In that moment, I experienced such a profound combination of grief and loss, relief that she was no longer suffering, and celebration of her new-found freedom. It was an extraordinary moment that I will never forget. My mother had gone home. 

The empty sadness in my heart is ever present as I write. I’ve walked this road before. My relationship with my mother is already on another level now, no less real or tangible. My connection with my father has always remained close from the other side, and today I feel a new sense of the two of them together with me. That is a gift and a blessing. Life is abundant and rich, full of feelings, emotions, and experience. The pendulum swings wide between tender joy and sweet sadness. The full spectrum of all emotions in between is, for now, my resting place. And so it will be as the healing continues.

More than 25 years ago, I wrote a song called “Rest.” Both of my parents heard me sing that song many times—it was one of their favorites. I share it with you here. The recording is from a CD of my songs, Child of the Moon. The pianist is Bill Lewis, one of my long-time musical collaborators during my singing career. As you listen, my mother and father will surely be listening, too.  

(Note: The music begins very softly, so you might want to turn your speaker volume up to hear.)

Music and Lyrics by Alan Seale

Rest, oh weary one, rest;
Sleep, oh tired one, sleep;
Lay your aching bones down, let your heart breathe deep;
Rest, oh weary one, rest.

Day has come to an end;
Let the journey of the night now begin;
For the walking and talking and running and weeping now fade away;
Let the night be your friend.

Settle on down to the quiet;
Hush, hush, hush, not a word;
Listen to the stars, the moon, and the wind;
Rustling leaves, and the gentle rain, Ah…

Rest, oh weary one, rest;
Sleep, oh tired one, sleep;
Lay your aching bones down, let your heart breathe deep;
Rest, oh weary one, rest.

Copyright 2004 Alan Seale