Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Brothers and Sisters To All Creation

Halloween, Part 4.

Sometimes we hear the voice of a family member who has died, or we feel their presence. Is it real?

Out of the blue, I think to send something nice to a friend in another state. When it arrives three days later, it’s exactly what she needs. Is something more going on than coincidence?

We are more connected to each other than we think, both the living and the dead.

Soon after I arrive in Yosemite, a coyote always appears, either sitting along the road to welcome me in, or trotting across the meadow with a glance. Molly says Coyote is my spirit guide. She might be right. Some people say they never see coyotes. I see them all the time.

As I hike, I feel the companionship of Nature’s spirit, and let it guide me where it wants. The wind comes near and advises me about tomorrow’s weather. Taking a break, I fall asleep along the river, feeling I have come home.

We are not limited by what we can see.

I sometimes wonder if my ancestors left predispositions in my genes, some trait that kept them alive and guides me like a hidden instinct. Science is increasingly saying this is possible.

When I’m hiking in the backcountry, I find trail ducks. These are short stacks of rocks left by hikers to indicate turns in the trail that are hard to see. They left them as a kindness for people who will come later; people they will never meet.

Black Elk believed that all members of creation were brothers and sisters to each other — the buffalo, mountains, human beings, rivers, horses, coyotes, and ravens. The Sioux pray to the Grandparents in the afterlife to send messages to guide them. And they do.

The Ahwahnechee of Yosemite believed that the deer willingly gave themselves up to their arrows, knowing that the Ahwahnechee had to eat.

Today is All Saints Day on the Christian calendar. Think about and honor those who have been saints in your life, those who were there at crucial times and helped you survive.

Many people hold celebrations this weekend — All Hallows Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. The ancient Celtic people observed Samhain, when the living could talk to the dead. Latin American countries have a similar celebration called Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, with its fixation on skulls. It’s an observance that traces its roots back to the Aztecs, who believed that the deceased preferred to be celebrated, rather than mourned.

When we share something personal with others, this part of us begins to live in them. This does not die when we do, but continues to guide and inspire them, and it sometimes makes them laugh.

I believe that the spiritual can be more real than the physical, and that matters of the spirit are not bound by the laws that govern physical objects.

I believe that everyone I’ve ever loved is still here with me in some way.

This weekend I intend to listen for what I cannot see, matters that change the world, trail ducks of the Spirit — hope, faith, and love.


  1. I wonder the same thing about my ancestors. And I have to believe its true. I am very into genealogy and I feel so close to my great grandparents and their families even though I never met the. I feel a connection to them that I don't believe is based solely on the fact that I know we share DNA. Its an actual "bond" that I feel in my heart.

    Many of them were lawyers which didn't surprise me at all when I found that out because I am really good at debating and I feel a strong desire for "justice" and to get people to see my side of things. These are personality traits that I know were passed down from them. I also feel their presence sometimes in my day to day life and I just know that somehow on some level that we may not even know exists...they are with me. Thanks for another great post. I really love your blog. Its one of a kind.

  2. Thank you. It is a fascinating field of study about what is coded in our genes and in our memories. I can't wait to see what happens here in the next twenty years.