49 years married to Pat – words to tell our truths.


We knew right from the beginning that we were destined for each other. Just 12 hours after meeting her and asking her out (November 18, 1968) I asked her to marry me.  Twelve days after that she wrote me that letter wherein she states, “On top of this I feel an elusive fondness for you that can’t be classified; its too strong for friendship and not strong enough for love.”  Why did we see so quickly that we were meant for each other and were soulmates? As Pat said, “small bubbles of happiness in a cold universe.” My favourite old testament book, Ecclesiastes reminds us that life is never without God-not even for a moment! Three days after that first date we were kneeing together in prayer in the Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican church in Toronto. For everything there is a season, and God is in the midst of them.

By the Lakeshore

Patricia A Smith January 1969

Among the ice

Brave bright ducks

Unsinkably bobbed.

This side of the break water,

A seeming submarine

Craggy with Atlantic ice.

Ice on the concrete shore, Then grey crinkled blueness

Moving to the false horizon.

Like numbed yellow wine

The sun spread a stain to where

The unreal smoky silhouettes

Of faraway towns were

Featured, just above the horizon.

The boorish wind off the water,

The wind off the ice,

Was too cold, enveloping us

So small,

Two little castles

Hand holding and smoking cigarettes

And ambling.

We should have been crusted with frost,

As windows are on winter houses,

Small bubbles of happy heat

In a cold universe.

Pat got it right from the beginning. In that letter she also wrote: “I would prefer you not to mention marriage again until and unless you feel that I can return your feelings equally.” She wanted to be sure we were soulmates. About a month after she got back from Ottawa we were kissing good night after a date when she said, “Eric, I love you!” After recovering from the shock, I replied “Does this mean you will marry me?” She replied “Yes.” That was February 9th, 1969 we bought the ring on February 14, 1969 and were married on June 21, 1969.  At our wedding the priest thinking forward to the Communion pronounced us man and WINE. Now Pat’s presence in me is the wine pouring into the chalice of my heart. I feel closest to her during the Mass. For us, the Communion at our wedding was very important. On page 571 of the BCP, you’ll see the rubric “It is fitting that the new-married persons should receive the holy Communion at the time of their Marriage, or at the first opportunity after their Marriage”, followed by a Collect, Epistle, and Gospel. This is the way of indicating, in the BCP, that a Communion service is intended to take place at this time.  “We ask nothing, we have all.”

In this first anniversary poem, she is firmly placing us on the road to becoming the united, eternal resurrection entity mandated by our sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

TO ERIC (21 JUNE 1970)

You love me royally,

as I love you, seated together in our garden Kingdom,

keeping up our silent conversation,

clothed in robes of joy of every hue.

For us, our royal love has had no parallel:

It rooted, grew, and like a miracle

spread to the garden where in now we sit,

Clothed in the fragrance of God in it.

 

And this long miracle is to discover

the inmost me and you,

to nurse no longing for another,

to forge the soul and its desire together

gently, openly and forever.

Nothing grows but common flowers

outside our Kingdom’s wall.

Here alone the magic lies.

We ask nothing; we have all.

Two years later a son was born unto us. It was a conscious decision on our part to start a family. We were ready after two years. On her pregnancy, Pat wrote “There are inevitable discomforts, of course — as well as the consciousness of no longer being light and slim — and there are nice moments, such as feeling the baby hop around inside. But all in all, it does not change one’s life.” We continued to love each other deeply.

An untitled poem by Patricia A. Bow. June 1971

One month, you will be growing

Inside my body’s night

In eight, I will be heavy

In nine, I will be light.

You now growing in my womb

Like a cloth upon the loom,

Secret, unborn mystery,

Soon shall lie for all to see

Perfect in your purity.

Stranger, son or daughter,

Are you dark or fair?

Well your head be darkly crowned

Or bright with angel hair?

James did not show up as raw material to be shaped into whatever image the world might want him to take. He arrived with his own image of God within – shape of his own sacred soul. Ours was the responsibility to allow him to be him. The world still waits for the truth that will set us free – my truth, your truth, our truth, his truth – the truth that was seeded in the earth when each of us arrived here formed in the image of God. Cultivating that truth, Pat and I believe, is the authentic vocation of every human being – as is allowing James to find his truth within. Neither Pat nor I were materialist. We did not pursue wealth or material things. We are created in the image of God. Our responsibility is to help him find who he is.  The pursuit of wealth and fame is a hinderance. As Pat says in a 1971 poem:

“To own too much can be a prison,

And I have dreamed of breaking free,

Hair, skin, eyes, alone and naked.

Riding the wind above a racing sea.

We were comfortable living in downtown Toronto and we were relatively happy especially once the problem of my mother ended. It is an excellent place to raise a bright son – with the racially and culturally mixed neighbourhood, good schools, institutions such as the ROM and AGO, excellent restaurants and food stores, and generally lively and stimulating milieu of our neighbourhood. The problem was me – I didn’t like my job. We did however love each other very much. We had become truly one, “intimately webbed together.”

12th Anniversary Poem (fragments) 1981

by Patricia A. Bow

I know the scent and shape of you:

I know you all, yet not at all.

I linger with a connoisseur’s delight

over a contour of bone, a texture of skin,

gloating over treasures of silk and ivory

that are mine alone,

and yet no-one’s but yours.

For you and I are so entwined

that we can read each other’s mind

at times, a simple exercize.

Then comes the stumble of surprise

when, reaching out in haste, I find

the stranger self behind your eyes.

Far apart upon the lawn,

two tall trees confront each other

never to touch, ever alone:

yet beneath the grass and stone

intertwined their roots have grown,

so intimately webbed together,

neither one can tell his own.

So, with us: which flatly proves

futility of arguments

On which is which, and whose is whose.

Just after our twentieth anniversary I finally went and did what I’d been fantasizing about for years: I quit my job. I had stayed far too long in the Provincial Library Service. I should have quit years ago; five to ten years without a promotion in any position is long enough – twenty is too long. But a new job did not come in the period after I quit. We needed some way to get out of my not working and having no income. Our big asset was the family home in downtown Toronto. Pat and I came up with a plan to sell the house for enough money to buy an inexpensive house in Kitchener/Waterloo (James had decided to take urban planning at U of W) and invest the difference to cover living expenses to free us from the need for a job. By the summer of 1991 we had a home in Kitchener. We were pleased with it and content. A little more money would have eased things still more. But that would come.  We were together and content

We visualized our marriage as getting better indefinitely for the rest of our lives. We thought the stronger you grow in yourself, the more you can love another person. We loved each other quietly and with respect. we wanted to be each other’s spouse and companion forever. We grew together, Pat was the only woman for me and I was the only man for her without each other we would have been all disorganized fragments.

In Prison with you

by Patricia A. Bow October 1972

I tried to pick

the lock with my pen

but the pen

broke in my hand

and all its

blue blood dripped out.

 

So I used my head

instead

and I hypnotized

the guards

 

I am still here

but now I can

get out

any time I like.

 

What stops me is

the fact

That you won’t come.

And I know

you would be lonely.

In our new home in Kitchener we found ourselves.  Pat decided to write what she loved to read and sold her first young adult book, The Spiral Maze. She also trained as a journalist and got a job with the University of Waterloo writing for its publication and public relations department. My Ontario Public Service Pension plan started. We were comfortable. Pat was my intimate companion, my soulmate, the object of my desire, the subject of my truth. The two of us had set each other free. Marriage, financial security, and finding ourselves made us somehow complete and happy.

Untitled Poem (In my garden) by Patricia A Bow Jan. 1976

 

In my garden I will

grow baby’s breath and bergamot

fearless of all winds that blow,

so secure they’ll shelter there.

Marigolds and maidenhair

in the borders I will sow:

roses and anemones,

and all gentle plants like these.

 

In my garden I can find

lilacs of the deathless kind,

hollyhocks and columbine.

Summer there will never end,

blackening frost will not descend,

where my garden’s fences wind,

through the meadows of my mind.

 

Every morning you pass through,

leaving footprints in the dew.

 

And at night, you and I,

arm in arm, walk quietly.

We even had the oft dreamed of holiday by the sea in Nova Scotia. Pat felt she had finally found herself and her home. I believe she was the happiest she had ever been in her life. She loved walking alone beside the ocean singing the hymn, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. She had found the Scot within her, her heritage. She was finally who she was meant to be. There is a reason it is called Nova Scotia.  She knew she was a Scot and now became a Maritimer. Once again, she was experiencing her heritage as when she wrote the following:

The Loch … July 21/93

by Patricia A. Bow

Looking into the mirror

I see a country in my face

Pale skin, pale lashes,

a tight closed mouth under a long upper lip.

Wary grey green eyes, clear but cool,

like sea water.

Ashen hair that lifts in any breeze.

 

The bones are closer to the skin now,

their message easier to read.

The mouth sets in its predestined manner

and the sea grey eye

glints out at me in other faces

with names like MacNeil and Shaw.

 

The bones and blood remember.

 

A stony keep, square, desolate,

jutting from the loch.

One window gleams.

Beyond the gentle, barren hills,

green at first; beyond them,

higher and bluer hills,

layer on layer,

till at last the shoulders

of gaunt and misty tors.

 

This picture painted on a board at twenty.

At forty-five, a quilted panel worked.

A fantasy, I thought. A dream landscape:

heroic, enchanted.

 

And then at forty-seven, turning the pages

of a book, my hand paused.

Heart contracted.

Loch, keep, hills, all of it there

under my eyes.

And the captions, bring ice to the spine:

land around Fort William,

slopes of Ben Nevis,

home of the Cameron Clan.

 

Looking into the mirror

of my face and other faces,

I see my roots growing

downward and backward

through cracked stones laid up to a farmhouse door.

 

through snow and granite and decaying fence wood,

pine choked ravines,

desolate river shores.

 

Back and back

past a waste of seas

to another solitude.

As the poet Rumi says, “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere; they’re in each other all along.”  You also don’t finally find your home somewhere out there; it is within you all along; you just discover it. Pat had wanted to return to Nova Scotia at least once more. I did too because she had been so happy there and that made me happy. In November 2015, “we booked a return vacation to White Point for June 19 to 23, 2017 (Monday to Friday), leaving early on the 23rd in order to catch the train home. We have Ocean front cabin #44 a single, close to the beach, with a fireplace, small sitting area, fridge, microwave, tea kettle, etc. All we need!  I am greatly looking forward to it. Picturing myself, morning mug of tea in hand, sitting on my little verandah watching the tide come in. At night, hearing the in-out living breath of the sea through our bedroom window. Maybe this time we’ll be luckier with the weather and we’ll be able to see the sun rise over the ocean and get a good view of the stars. The Ocean train, sleeper class, both ways will be a big part of the treat. I’ve always wanted to have a berth on a train. It does worry me a bit that we have another 19 1/2 months before our trip. So much can happen in nearly two years. I’ll be 71, Eric will be 74!  Please God, keep us both in good health until after our trip!”         [God didn’t answer our prayers.  It is really hard to say, “Not my will but thine!”]   

 Patricia Bow died January 7, 2017 peacefully at home as she wanted.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is explained that “the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. God himself is the author of marriage.” The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. ” By reason of their state in life and of their order, Christian spouses have their own special gifts in the People of God. “This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace, they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” Christ is the source of this grace. “Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony. “Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens” “and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love” In the sacrament of marriage God joins two entities into one. The term “one flesh” means that just as our bodies are one whole entity and cannot be divided into pieces and still be a whole, so God intended it to be with the marriage relationship. There are no longer two entities (Though there are still two persons), but now there is one entity (a married couple). There are a number of aspects to this union. First and foremost, our identity is bound with one another, the identity of each is united in the identity of the marriage. The death of a spouse is truly different from the loss of any other family member; the spiritual entity made by God remains united; half in my heart the other half in heaven. I believe this with all my being; I really haven’t lost Patricia I have gained Christ; I am one with her in the arms of Christ in Heaven and she is still one with me in my heart.

November

By Patricia A. Bow 1992

October past, like vital middle age,

quicker than fear or expectation gone,

November storms upon us, lean and wan,

all silvered, like King Lear upon the stage,

It’s growing old that sets him in a rage;

the grave indignity of being bundled on

before his business properly is done;

they snatched the book before he’d filled the page.

 

November’s tears, like stones against the glass

bite bitterer than summer’s velvet rain.

The green blood bleaches from the tattered hill,

the red from wrinkled cheek. He dreads the pass

to icy sleep. Then takes up hope again,

recalls the Resurrection, and is still.

There is absolutely no doubt Patricia and I loved each other with all our hearts and with all our soul, and with all our minds and with all our strength. Pat’s concern for the grief her death would bring her closest and dearest is evident in her diary entries after she learned she was dying. She wrote “To Eric it was a terrible blow. Maybe he’ll never recover, either.”   And “I hate the fact that I am making several loved people unhappy.” As Ladislaus Boros wrote “The best love stories end in death, and this is no accident. Love is, of course, and remains the triumph over death, but that is not because it abolishes death but because it is itself death, Only in death is the total surrender that is love’s possible, for only in death can we be exposed completely and without reserve. That is why lovers go so simply and unconcernedly to their death, for they are not entering a strange country; they are going into the inner chamber of love.”

Love is marriage and marriage is a sacrament that makes man and woman “the complete human being.”  Love and marriage are stronger than death, when we rejoin in Heaven, we will be truly the complete human being created in the image of God – continuous and interchangeable

Basic

by Patricia A.  Bow Easter 1975

I love you little more than I love air

for every time I draw a breath

a puff withstands the void of death:

I love you little more than I love air.

 

I love you little more than I love water.

It sends the new green springing high,

without it I would surely die;

I love you little more than I love water.

 

I love you little more than I love bread.

It binds the muscle to the bone,

it sends the heartbeat throbbing on;

I love you little more than I love bread.

Even Death can NOT can change a love when it’s true. No amount of separation between two people can tear their feelings apart from one another – not even Death. When two souls are truly in love with each other and God, no amount of time, space, turbulence, heartache, or fear can keep them apart. True love is divine, selfless, pure, and giving. It’s truly unconditional. When someone is truly and utterly in love with someone else, they’ll stop at nothing to attain their love, and even more so, they’ll do anything and everything to maintain their love, and their relationship. Love is stronger than Death – that love continues to grow even after death aided by the divine within us. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:9) Patricia and I were joined together as ONE in marriage forever.

June 21, 2016 is our 49th wedding anniversary.

Our love lives and is still growing. I celebrate our Love. Yes, she will be / is present in me. Her presence is the pure wine being poured into the chalice of my heart. That presence is proof that Heaven is here and now and within me.  Patricia bears witness to this reality.

 

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Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Grief, heaven, Love, Marriage, Poetry, Religion, Religion - Anglican, Soulmates, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pat’s on God, Love and Religion


Pat was a very deep thinker and read extensively. She read Jacque Ellul (Anarchy and Christianity); Tom Harper (Life after Death); Arthur Schafer (The Death of Public Morality; a Civilization in Decline); Eric Kierans (Corporations Over All); David Brin (The Postman); etc. She was most influenced by two Canadians, George Grant and Northrop Frye. She kept extensive note in her writing journal. Her comments on quotes from these writers are a window into her mind and belief system. Pat is coming from an Anglican tradition and nothing here contradicts her Anglicanism as preserved in the 39 Articles of Religion in Canadian Book of Common Prayer [https://www.anglican.ca/about/beliefs/39-articles/]

1. Ellul distinguish between true Christianity – the revealed Word of God – and religion, which he describes as man’s fumbling efforts to linkup with “the sacred.” He also points out that religion and morality are different. Religion may take many forms, often brutish and horrible. The “new demons” of today are the new religions – technology, sex, the state, etc. – in their political, economic and cultural manifestations. The machine view of man, the triumph of consumption, promiscuity, anti-democratic trends, etc., etc., are all aspects of these new religions. Much of Christianity as embodied in the traditional Church and in less formal sects is also part of religion, i.e. the misguided, because basically man-directed, attempt to capture “the sacred.” He shows that far from being a secular period, the modern era is dominated by religion. This he finds, deplorable, because religion has little to do with God…. Ellul says man is lonely for the only true “other,” the God he has lost,
2. Ellul sees three routes for the Church: the first to become rational and man-directed, dedicated to social and political reform, etc., in the mistaken belief that the modern world is actually secular and rational. The second is to recover its traditional rites and festivals, in keeping with the actual religious character of the modern world. The first approach will break the church down, the second will gain many converts. Both approaches will be equally wrong and anti-Christian. The third route is the only correct one: to rediscover and embrace the three revealed Word and reject the modern religions of the world and of the church. i.e. he sees us as being in exactly the same positions as the first century Christians.
3. With reference to Ellul’s theory of the modern sacreds: when large companies and institutions demand total human commitment (i.e. the soul) from their employees, is this because they believe in the institution as sacred ethic? Or because the whole human individual (soul) is less valued now than in past generations? It makes sense if these institutions put themselves in the place of the Church, which formerly could legitimately demand the submission of souls, since the Church was the mouthpiece of God – or thought it was.)
4. Grant shows socialism to be essentially conservative, in imposing restraints on individual freedom for the common good.
5. Grant’s description of the gradual deterioration of British conservatism seems to correspond to Ellul’s description of the gradual adulteration of Christianity. Grant’s liberal 20th century corresponds to Ellul’s century of secular religions.
6. If full humanity is the ability and intention to be responsible for one’s own actions, then modern man is being robbed of his humanity by large entities – political, social, economic – which limit his decision-making ability. This may be linked to a decreased sense of right and wrong, since taking responsibility implies the need to make moral choices. i.e., if we rely on the government to make all decisions via legislation, and do not attempt to participate, we become less human.
7. Since the U.S. is more capitalist than Canada, Americanization means further moral erosion. Schafer repeats Grant’s thesis from a socialist view point.
8. Grant gives example of a supreme court decision on abortion as raising the question of personhood in law. If fetuses are not persons, who else may be excluded? This raises fundamental questions: “ What is it, if anything, about human beings that makes the rights of equal justice their due? … What is it about any of us that makes our just due fuller than that of stones or flies or chickens or bears?”
9. That modern liberalism is a form of secularized Christianity is at the heart of the contradiction. Nietzsche pointed out that the Christian part of the relation was a vestige of the dead past, as far as intellectuals were concerned. Judeo-Christianity supplied the content of our justice – i.e., the values. Once it is recognized that these values are outmoded, what will limit human will? i.e., questions of right and wrong will no longer arise.
10. Grant concludes by saying that the task of reconciling modern science with eternal morality will take a lot of rigorous thought, a genuine philosophy. But we have neglected philosophy, and if anyone accomplishes the task, it will not be the English-speaking people.
11. Grant says that some mistakenly think our “modern western will to be the masters of the earth” is the same will animating earlier civilizations, which merely lacked our scientific development. This idea is wrong; the ancient Greeks, the Chinese, did not have the same attitude to the world as we do.
12. Technological man is subject, with all the world as object. His will is the only factor to be considered. By extension, other humans are also objects. In the traditional view, God is subject, and we exist in a special (non-object) relationship to Him – a relationship which involves absolute obligations. Since all other selves are also children of God, and since all the world is His creation, we also have obligations to other people and the world at large. We are part of them, not set apart and above.
13. Any criticism of the application of technology is difficult if not impossible, because such criticism cannot be made using the terms provided to us by our technological culture. The concepts we are used to by now do not admit the opposing concepts in their ontology (language).
14. One reads of scientists coming to believe in God despite all their training in rational objectivity, because in their study of the world they have discovered its beauty and fallen in love with it: i.e., had a vision of the world as authentic other.
15. Just finished reading Tom Harper’s Life after Death – interesting and providing food for thought, especially on the question of the resurrection of the body. Off and on I’ve thought about aging and dying, and I really don’t think I’ll enjoy it. Harper’s book contains some comforting conclusions. According to him, there is some evidence that death is not a fearful experience, but instead a transition to something wonderful. I’d better keep that in mind.
16. Primitive societies were full of taboos to hedge about the sacredness of the various forces in their lives. The modern view is that human freedom must not be restricted, so the sacredness has been denied, and reverence portrayed as superstition and needless fear.
17. Grant repeats his definition of justice as rendering to anything its due. The idea was Socratic but also is present in the Jewish idea of charity as an obligation. Christianity merely emphasized and extended the idea explicitly: and linked justice with mercy (charity) when Christ forgave his torturers. We are called to be like Christ in this, but Grant admits such perfection is impossible for all but saints.
18. Justice is the recognition of authentic otherness, equal to oneself. If the other (whatever it is) is equal, its due is equal. This restates the Golden Rule. – Since in modern thought there is no valid other, then the self reigns supreme and justice becomes merely a set of rules on mutual restrictions for our convenience.
19. Grant’s discussion of Darwin and the human mastery of the environment suggests the often-unstated underpinnings of the views of conservationists who deplore the death of species, lake, etc. What they often do not state is that these endangered species have their own goodness, their own right to exist, their own “due”. i.e. conservation = justice. It is unjust for us to destroy species and to pollute. It is just for us to use our power to conserve. The Gaia concept is basically in agreement with Grant.
20. Classic terms – true = good = beautiful. Modern terms – true = factual; beautiful = giving pleasure; good = ????
21. Grant does not finally answer the question, how to live in terms of the truth (that the world proceeds from love) in the midst of the modern paradigm of knowledge.
22. Grant also makes the point that charity cannot and should not be divorced from the satisfaction of some need in the giver. The giver’s need to give is not only his need to feel good about himself but his need to satisfy his drive towards justice. i.e. if I feel I ought to give to those less fortunate, and I do so and then feel good about it, this does not invalidate the act as an act of love. It merely is a natural reaction to the fulfillment of my own need to see justice done, and it confirms that the act has been one of justice and goodness. Those who say that satisfaction in doing good invalidates the “moral value” of the act, miss the truth that human beings have a need to see justice done, and that the need is implanted by God, and the satisfaction is both inevitable and right.
23. Grant notes that for both Platonism and Christianity, goodness (God) is finally beyond understanding. Without this humble agnosticism, Christianity can and does tend to triumphalism, i.e. to say that all is done for God’s purpose, which ends in the blasphemy that even the evil in the world is good.
24. You can’t beat midnight for those inspirations that make you think you’ve got the key to the universe, or a solution to all mankind’s ills. Here is the latest brainstorm: It is impossible to believe in absolute freedom of the will or freedom of action. Because there is no moral vacuum for human beings. However, there is a way to a kind of freedom, which not only doesn’t set aside morality, but is dependent on it. Key words are Thought, Action, Positive and Negative. First, thought, to clear away the mental rubbish and make visible the primary moral principles on which our lives must be based. Second, action — to put those principles into effect in one’s own life. In short, once you know a thing is right, it’s a sin of omission not to do it. Action is impossible without freedom to act. This means being able at any moment to give up everything, even life. “Freedom is another word for Nothing left to lose.” Problem, History has many examples of tragedies and cruelties caused by men and women who acted on their principles. Sometimes inaction would seem to be the best and safest course. However, inaction, especially that based on non-thought, leads to stagnation, and eventually nothingness. Action leads to something. Christian folklore has it that there are two places of extreme character good — positive and the bad -positive, but only one limbo for the negative: people not good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. Still, is it worth it? What about thoughtful passivity? Eric had his own brainstorm recently, also concerned with freedom of the will. His view is that we are like ships on the ocean. We can’t control the external circumstances of our lives — the currents, the storms, the calms and winds. But we can make use of our sails and rudders to control the way we meet these circumstances, and we can plot our course as well as possible. This is at least a partial answer to those who wonder why God lets “bad things” happen to innocent people — floods, hurricanes, famine, accidents, etc. The way I see it, God has sent us on a journey, and while we are on that journey, He will not interfere with us. We are on our own. But I do believe we’ll end the journey someday, so this is not as heartless as it sounds.

Posted in Bow, Patricia A., Family, Grief, heaven, Love, Marriage, Poetry, Religion, Religion - Anglican, Soulmates | Leave a comment

The Wisdom of my beloved Patricia


Pat kept a book of excerpts from books that influenced her and comforted her. This excerpt from Tom Harper’s Heaven and Hell (1983) seems to speak to my Grief – the fear, worry and anxiety we feel in Grief.

“The greatest personal enemies any one of us faces are fear, worry and anxiety, as any doctor or psychiatrist will confirm. This is precisely the diagnosis Jesus, himself gives in the gospels. In his view, the most deadly blight of humankind is not “sin”, but that fear which corrodes the spirit, saps the body, and enervates the heart. That is why his most characteristic words to people in the Gospels are ‘Be of good cheer’ and ‘Have courage.’ The faith to which he calls us is not faith in some set of dogmas and creeds, but a fundamental confidence in life and the universe itself. For him, it was based not on wishful thinking or whistling in the dark, but on the most profound conversation that God is like a parent to all his children…. In the end Jesus himself was prepared to stake his life on it. There in the middle of the Sermon [on the Mount] he tackles needless anxiety directly and says the secret of living is to be found in this kind of trustful acceptance of the task of the moment: ‘Tomorrow shall worry about its own anxieties.’ (Matt. 6:34)”

Pat believed as I do. “Faith is the experience that the intelligence is enlightened by love.” (Simone Weil) She was not anxious learning she was dying; she accepted the news calmly and her biggest concern was me; now, that is soulmate love.

From her diary:

Wednesday 16 2016                      Day 1

To my great surprise, I am dying.

I found it out Tuesday. I accidentally took a 10 mg Allegro pill instead of a blood pressure pill and thereby took a total of 25 mm Allegro

Ontario Telehealth said go to Emergency, so we did, and in the course of the examination the Nurse Practitioner detected that there was something funny about my pancreas. She ordered a CAT scan, which found cancer on my liver and pancreas….

Huge thud of astonishment – my family usually all die of heart disease!

I haven’t really recovered – perhaps never will. To Eric it was a terrible blow. Maybe he’ll never recover, either.

I think for the first few hours I was just picking myself off the floor, dazed and incredulous. This was clearly just impossible. It still feels impossible.

How can I be dying? ….

Forgot to mention that Fr. Neil Carver visited about the same time as Eric. He will get in touch later with some books that might be useful and maybe some meditation exercises.

I notice that my hand writing is becoming terrible.

I hate the fact that I am making several loved people unhappy.

The other thing I hate is the prospect of pain. I am terrified. I am a complete coward when it comes to pain.

I am told things can be done to control pain, but I’m not sure I believe it.

So much I will lose. The beauty of the Earth; of the skies, of colours. I see it all turning and turning to darkness.

So much loss, such pain.

Please God, please, please, please.

Funny- of us Smith kids I never thought I would be the one to go first!”

 

We both turned to God and love in our anxiety. God is Love, the love that passes all understanding. Love is the proof there is authentic otherness.  We love therefore the other exists as well – the unequivocal otherness in the one. Our quiet, sharing love was a spiritual union of souls: two individuals united before God but still separate, different individuals. We respected each other’s privacy but were still touching. We were always aware of each other’s presence even when we were not in the same room. Ours was/is a union between soul mates. She dwells in me and I dwell in her. Pat is my rock on which I rest.

 

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Thy Will be Done


I sometimes feel like I’m being punished for some sin I committed against God; especially when I can feel neither God nor Patricia within me – just the deep empty loneliness. Could it be I am being punished for loving my beloved Patricia more than I love God? After all our Lord Jesus Christ said: Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment.
Well I am guilty of loving Patricia more than I Love myself and I believe that the love of one’s spouse is the same as one’s love for God. When Pat was alive I did love her more than I loved God: we were “Us and God” not “God and Us”. When now I am lonely and missing her very much it is so easy to slip back into “Us and God”. It is like when I doubt my God and cry “O God I believe, help me in my unbelief.”
Pat wanted us to repeat our 2003 anniversary holiday in Nova Scotia; we enjoyed it so much and she fell in love with the south shore of the province. She worked on it so hard – the files and plans are still on her computer. When she retired, and both our pensions were coming in we made reservations and plans just after I recovered from my quintuple bypass – even bought round trip tickets on Via’s The Ocean. Her diaries from 2014 are full of her happiness about our plans to return for our 48th anniversary to White Point Beach. They also contain prayers that both her and I would remain healthy enough to enjoy that anniversary trip. All prayers ended with the same ending she prayed when I went into the operating theatre for my quintuple by-pass: “God, please, please, please, please. Amen.”
Well that was a prayer God answered with a NO – a resounding NO! Pat died with tears in her eyes but accepted God’s well. She is a much better Christian than me. It just wasn’t to be. I felt her death as punishment for me not accepting His will. I wanted Pat to be happy – always happy. This is why I wonder if I am being punished for loving her more than I loved God. Please God forgive me and teach me to accept thy will with grace. God answered her pray to die without pain. Thank you God for that.
As C. S. Lewis said, God gives us the death of our beloved to get us back on the path to him; this is a harsh thing that God does because He loves us. You can not have resurrection without death. The pain of the present is part of the happiness of the past. You can’t separate Crucifixion and resurrection. The answer to my pain is within the pain. We must accept that or remain broken.
We love still, we have hope, and sadness, joy and fear. These feelings strengthen us in the love of Christ. Love is stronger than Death and we love forever.
Lord I am not high-minded: I have no proud looks.
2. I do not exercise myself in great matters, which are too high for me.
3. But I calm my soul and keep it quiet, like a weaned child with his mother; yea, my soul is even as a weaned child.
4. O Israel, trust in the Lord, from this time forth for evermore. Psalm 131

Yes, I still love Patricia, honour and keep her in my heart; and, forsaking all other, keep myself unto her, forever. God, Thy will be done, thy love be done and may Pat and I dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Amen.

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Memory of things past or of things to come


Carl Jung said: “The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” It follows that Patricia’s soul and mine, united in marriage and as soulmates, have deep memories of times of our joy together before either of us were born and far into eternity. We found each other within each other. We loved with heart and soul; for us, there is no such thing as separation. LOVE is stronger than DEATH. We now live our life in our dreams and memories. Our love (agape), is the unconditionality of true acceptance of God and us, the devotion associated with seeking truth in life, and the beauty of human nature, while transcending time, countries, religions and languages.

I had a dream last night that was so real it was like living a Jane Austin movie.  Pat and I were dressed like 19th century gentry.  Pat was gorgeous – full length yellow dress with high waist, her hair done in a French twist. We owned a new winery in wine country but were new to wine making; our first crop was ready for bottling. There was not enough wine from the oak barrels to fill the bottles, but the cooper told us not to worry, blessed our endeavour and to just keep filling the bottles. There was more than enough. The bottles ran out before the barrels. The grounds were lovely, and we were alone together (Pat’s hermit couple) there. We thought about setting up a winery restaurant. When that first batch was ready we took it into town to enter the wine tasting. It was superb, and we won first prize. Won enough for the winery restaurant. Can’t help but think the dream was fulfilling both our dreams – 19th century winery estate, hermit couple and a restaurant. Memory of things past or of things to come?  “Do you have memory of the day we met, when the halo of your spirit surrounded us, and the angels of love floated about, singing the praise of the soul’s deed?” — Khalil Gibran

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Love is everything! I will love Patricia forever!


Like both Sheldon Vanauken and C. S. Lewis I can’t imagine Agape or Eros coming twice. I’m still very much married to Patricia and still very much in love with her. I shall be forever. Patricia and I were lucky enough to discover that quiet, intense love that is basic to life itself. Yes, Eros or Romantic love – the love of Chick films – brought us together. Cupid’s arrow made us interested in each other and that November 15th, 1968 we were both ready and looking for a relationship. We wanted each other in the Biblical sense.
Pat wrote just before Christmas 1968: “As a male, you attract me. The physical side of our relationship strikes me as complete, satisfying and contenting. This is a valuable thing, and not everybody achieves it.” Eros is emotion, sexual passion and very intense and yes, unstable. It is of the body. Okay, young lovers think it is forever but, to be of the soul it needs to be tempered and purified in the furnace of the soul like fine steel. The soul and God in Marriage makes you soulmates by refining and purifying the self and soul – folding the egos together, folding them into each other over and over again. The soulmates become one “they” becomes “we”. They are tied together by the red string of Fate and God in marriage refines the “we” in the heat and passion and in their joining in the heat of creation. At the death of one, the departed beloved soul shelters the surviving soul and works with it to continue their bond of agape love. Death is truly giving the body for the other. The final Love and majesty will come with the death of the surviving partner.
The true signs of soulmates are:
• a conscious decision to become “one”;
• facing the world as one;
• communicating soul to soul without speaking;
• a searching for God and US;
• an innate emotional trust in each other;
• unconditional love of each other;
• commitment to each other’s interests and good.
Sex becomes Eucharistic. “This is my body given for you, a drawing near to the other with all that one has and is; in conscious love; to give the inner most gift of oneself in the most intimate foretaste of divine union that can be known in human flesh “– Cynthia Bourgeault.
“LOVE AND DEATH HAVE A COMMON ROOT,” says Ladislaus Boros. “The best love stories end in death, and this is no accident. Love is, of course, and remains the triumph over death, but that is not because it abolishes death but because it is itself death. Only in death is the total surrender that is love’s possible, for only in death can we be exposed completely and without reserve. That is why lovers go so simply and unconcernedly to their death, for they are not entering a strange country; they are going into the inner chamber of love.” — From Love is stronger than Death by Cynthia Bourgeault.
Yes, our love continues beyond the grave after all we gave before God a pledge of pure and endless love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Then the Priest said:
“O Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life: Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Love did not die with her; it survives in both of us – it sustains me in my grief, in our grief. She dwells within me and is constantly with me in my dreams. I walk with her daily and I always will.  Patricia holds my hand and guides me to our place in Heaven. When my light returns with the dawn she will take me in her arms and wake me with a gentle kiss.

 

 

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Love and Death: to Patricia my beloved


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Pat, this whole year is as if I have been living our last year physically together tear by tear, over again. All the special days and anniversaries were times of vivid memories relived and tears. Well now I am in the final six weeks of your earthly life and it is hurting a lot more than I remember. Then I was too busy to think much of death but now it is nearing the end of your journey to departure and there is no hope of recovery or remission and no personal care to give. No final visits of friends and family bringing comfort. It is all adjusting to the new reality of being without the physical you. God and love sure intensely fused us into one. Yes, the candle has gone out, your vitality and brightness here on earth has dimmed but, for you at least, the dawn has come – you are in heaven in the arms of Christ. I, though still in darkness, sometimes in dreams and visitations by your presence, see your brightness. Yesterday during the mass, I looked up at the central window over the alter and Mary at the cross became you – hope this is not blasphemy. The sun was directly behind your face and so bright I could not see anything else. I was truly blinded by the light. Death now appears in a new light; it is where we totally surrender in love to each other and God. We both now know the fullness of our love and that LOVE is stronger than death. We have entered the inner chamber of love. We are together dwelling in each other forever.

“LOVE AND DEATH HAVE A COMMON ROOT,” says Ladislaus Boros  “The best love-stories end in death, and this is no accident. Love is, of course, and remains the triumph over death, but that is not because it abolishes death but because it is itself death. Only in death is the total surrender that is love’s possible, for only in death can we be exposed completely and without reserve. That is why lovers go so simply and unconcernedly to their death, for they are not entering a strange country; they are going into the inner chamber of love. ”  page 145 “LOVE is stronger than DEATH” by Cynthia Bourgeault.

As Cynthia says, “Once that surrender has been fully made, death has served its purpose and drops away to reveal the fullness of love.” Cynthia gives the best advice for the Grief Journey, ” …Love beyond the grave has something to do with “working in the wonders” — continuing to grow the soul by healing the dark parts and bring to birth the untapped gifts.”  Patricia and I are soulmates and we continue to grow in love forever.

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