James A Rutherford Funeral Home
THE LANGUAGE WE SPEAK
This is how the wounded find their way – through the language of silence.
When my father was dying, I called my brother who was living in Montreal at the time. He
\was in the middle of a round of golf with friends. Within the space of ten minutes, he was in his car bypassing any change of clothes or speaking with anyone at length about what was going on or grabbing any food for the 5+ hour journey. He missed our dad's passing by twenty minutes. He felt sorrow for losing that gracious moment of farewell. He felt guilt for his absence. And while it's unfair to lay blame upon oneself for such a thing – he still felt it.
That is precisely the time we need to speak in a universal tongue.
And what is the language? It's the language found only in silence. The language of opening out the heart into presence. Not the presence of another necessarily (although that is a part of it), but the presence of our own thankfulness, our own pain, our own joy, connected to the other. And that language includes the space needed for the honest feelings of any residual anger or regret.
When my brother arrived, there was an abundance of presence swelling in the room to wade through. We held each other in that silence, but it wasn't merely each other we were embracing; it was all our father had given us in his 77 years of living. The same thing I was embracing when I was alone in the room with him. The same thing my brother was embracing in his car on the long journey to come to us. I instinctively knew that any words spoken then, at that time, held the longevity of the hours in the day, while the silent words inside were immeasurable, were forever, because the energy of those words is felt.
That is how we speak to the dead. That is always how we are heard. It must be through the heart. The head is useless. It is scattered, attempting to make a balm out of reasoning rather than response. Silence and presence are what can be done for our emptiness, our guilt, our regret and our grieving. Any time it is needed. To open out and feel.
You may call it prayer, meditation, reflection; but it is the language our departed understand and the language we desperately need to use. And if we are not there to speak words out for the living in goodbye, we are there to feel them out for the dead after departure. The language encompasses hours, days, decades of memories. The language is greater than anything we can say out loud because once a depth of feeling has been put into words, it is already diminished. That is precisely why silent prayer is better than a whole slew of words spoken by another. That is simply the nature of ourselves.
We cannot know ourselves or speak as clearly with others as the soul speaks to us through silence. That is why we light the candle in their name, why we yearn to be alone in the vast beauty of nature, why we gaze up at the night sky in wonder and live between feelings of grandeur and insignificance as we live between the space of an opening and a closing door.
UNTIL SOON. LIVE WELL.