The Meaning of Life

Fellow Tallahassean and Blogger Extraordinaire, Nick Hardy (see http://eehard.wordpress.com) posted a blog today called, Is There Supposed To Be a Meaning? 

He says he believes there is no Paradise, reincarnation, “Heaven”, or “Hell” awaiting us at death.  This, this life, is it.  Use it or lose it.  I couldn’t agree more.  I hate it that I haven’t used it better.  Except I have a little different perspective, and I have a story to go with it.  What would a blog of mine be without a story?

In 2005, my friend Art died unexpectedly in October.  Earlier that year, I had lost a dog.  I was pretty much over the whole death thing.  Then on New Year’s Eve of that year, I was invited by a friend to attend her church, which has a Burning Bowl ceremony and also something called the White Stone ceremony.  I was very reluctant, especially since I figured my attendance might cause the church to be struck by lightning. 

This particular year, they decided to do away with the White Stone ceremony, but the Burning Bowl thing took place.  I thought it was a great idea.  The concept is that you say goodbye to things from the previous year you’d like to let go of.  I’m completely okay with symbolism, as long as you don’t take it too seriously.  In preparation, I’d written a long letter to Art.  Turns out, when I got there, I couldn’t use it in the Burning Bowl Ceremony.  Due to concerns expressed by the Fire Marshall, the Burning Bowl was confined to burning teensy postage-stamp sized pieces of onion skin paper which had enough room for you to write maybe one word…in pencil.  Pencils provided.  So much for the religious nature of the experience. 

But, in the backyard of the church, they had a giant bonfire going, and in that bonfire, you could cast off things you weren’t allowed to use inside the Church.  So I cast my letter into the fire, and it said (condensed version):  Dear Art, Tonight I hope the atoms of this letter will someday find you and the atoms of Troy Russell (the dog) and you will all recombine into another being as awesome as you both were in this life. 

There you have my version of reincarnation.  It does occur, just not in a recognizable form.  Troy Russell’s ashes are buried on St. George Island, and they will nurture some flower or some sea oat plant.  In my lifetime, I will never see him nor Art again.  But they have become part of the universe now, as will we all.  That in itself is awesome enough to suit me.

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8 responses to “The Meaning of Life

  1. DUH! I hit the wrong key! I made my escape from the Tallahassee Demagogue, so here I am….I loved this post and hope that the experience of the burning bowl continues to be a healing one for you. Great to see you and look forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. Welcome! The Tallahassee Demagogue, I love it.

  3. great read fakename. maybe after we are both gone, our atoms will recombine to form fakehard! lol

  4. Rofl! The future fakehard will be a formidable entity.

  5. A wonderful post! Thank you for introducing the idea of the burning bowl; it has certainly stopped me in my (mental) tracks: What from last year would I like to let go of?…great food for thought on a Sunday a.m. Maybe the answer will fit on a postage stamp, or I’ll end up building my own bonfire. Thanks again!

    take care,
    Louise Lewis, author
    No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You!

    FREE gift (pdf) copy at: http://www.noexpertsneeded.com
    (No strings/spam attached to offer…really!)

  6. Thanks, Louise! The following year, a friend of mine from Canada was so impressed with the Burning Bowl ceremony that she introduced it at a New Year’s Eve party she attended. They used a fireplace to throw away what they’d like to leave behind, and she said that after much initial eye-rolling and poo-pooing from folks about it being so hokey, a silence descended on the room once they actually did it. It really has a powerful psychological impact.
    The good thing about the White Stone ceremony, which should accompany the Burning Bowl ceremony, is that it gives you a focus for the future. In this ceremony, you reach into a bowl or basket and randomly pick a stone. On each stone is written a single word, such as “Love”, “Seek”, “Understand”, etc.
    I glanced at your website, I’ll go back.

  7. What church was this? I’ve not heard of either of those two ceremonies.

    And, I thought religion was protected, so how come the FM is telling the Church what to burn?
    The Santeria types can slash the throats of various animals as part of their rituals, so what’s the problem with a little burning?

    You have interesting stories Fakename….

  8. It’s the Unity Church; as I recall, it’s a sort of offshoot of Christian Science. Very New Age-ish. The Burning Bowl ceremony takes place inside the church, so the Fire Marshall’s concern was that the flames not be large enough to injure someone (therefore, the materials used had to be confined, and the person in charge had something to put out the fire should someone be stupid enough to ignore their instructions). And you wouldn’t want the flame to go high enough to ignite the roof, for example. It would have been a complete drag to be trapped in a burning building.
    And thank you. Sometimes I think my stories are interesting only to me!

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