I found that my reaction to the loss of her life was unexpected and confusing. Dr. Kerley answered our questions about our friend's practice of Buddhism and my reaction began to make sense. Our friend lived her short life more fully than I could imagine. I was almost eerily at peace with her passing and that point made me feel incredible guilt. As Dr. Kerley described the goals of Buddhist practice, my respect for her journey and mindfulness began to paint a new picture of life for me and allowed me to connect with her more deeply after her passing. As Dr. Kerley described mindful awareness and gratitude, the memory of my last conversation came flooding back and I could see her sitting on my couch speaking the last words she ever said to me. As I wrote in a previous post, I was fretting about child care and had been devising a plan to start an in-home daycare so that I could care for our boys while teaching other children in our home. As I explained the plan to her, she met my level of enthusiasm, passion, and underlying desperation, with a calm, firm, sincere, "then do that." Those three words stopped me in my tracks. What followed were years of side steps and "what ifs" that kept me from heeding her words. But through my journey and twists and turns, her words stayed with me and so did a longing to know more about Buddhist practices.
Years later, when I was in a place of significant desperation and feeling very lost and fragmented, one of the first books I reached for was The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. The book helped me see why and how I had been suffering, what I had been clinging to that wasn't fulfilling, and ways I needed to trust myself, my true self, that I had been repressing. It brought me back to a place where I could return that true self to Christianity. I read the book 6 times. In the meantime, I began attending Dr. Kerley's Ordinary Life class and following up on all of the resources he offered. I began to see how it was possible for me to live into her three words. The saying holds true, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. In understanding her spirit and discipline, Dr. Kerley was able to uncover a path that I could walk with Diana and allow her life to continue shining light on mine. I am grateful for my teachers those alive and alive in me.
Grace in, peace out