Green Beneath the Snow

The Chinese are right
About white
Being the color of death
It is pale, it is calm, it is pure stillness
White is the color of death

We do not speak enough about death
Less so than even sex, or madness, I warrant
And so we fear all the things we speak nothing of
For it is in speaking that we learn
It is in learning that we understand
It is in understanding that we come to terms
To peace
To forgive, as the French say

The snowscape in the first dawn after an evening shower
Before track or foot or car crosses it
We step out into it
Maybe laugh at our footprints made in the snow
It is cold, yes.
But it is quieter more than it is cold.
It is still, peaceful, quiet, and cold
It is the land of death, and we do not truly fear it

The caribou do not fear the land of death
They teach us as they eat
There is green beneath the snow
There is green beneath the snow

We talk much of spring, but we forget
Often
To remember that spring only follows winter
We forget
Often
That the green beneath the snow gives us spring
That the New Englander was right,
In strange aeons, even death dies

That stillness and quiet of a cold snowscape
We find peace in it
So it is in restful death
In death, we have a Sabbath, if we choose
A rest from our labors
A shelter from our cares
We make the choice to rest in death here in life
Failing to make that choice, then death is not stillness and quiet

Death can be the color of storms
Violent and lashing, alternating despairing rain and terrifying lightning
Thunder roaring and booming
Tornadoes lurk in the murk
Ready to spin and to smash and to make all in their paths
One with the Destroyer

Why would anyone choose a storm for death instead of a snowscape?
It is because they fear it, and they do not learn how to master it.
It is because they have pride, and they do not learn how to love one another.
They forget what the Jew taught us: Love God with all your might, mind and strength
And love your neighbor as you love yourself

Death is a hilltop in West Texas
Where the American taught us
Medicine is to be found
Where
Eagles circle above

Stillness and peace are there, as well, as the sun sets
And I hear nothing but the whispers of the spirits
Where the distance between their lips and my ears
Is made shorter in the peace and the stillness
Is made shorter in the wings of the eagle

Death is a moment in a hospital
Where a loved one nods and says, “It is time.”
Even then, as the frantic business of emergency rooms
Pours through the halls and intercoms
The loved one has a peaceful, if painful moment

What of those who choose death over life?
Do they find peaceful snows or hilltops?
Or raging storms of hellscape punishments?
My thought is this: if madness takes one to death,
It is no worse than cancer or heart attack or stroke:
The peace is in the person’s true choices
But if pride takes one to death,
If one cries out like the Roman about what a treasure is lost in one’s death,
The storm awaits.

Is there life after death?
The Austrian was right to reject that question.
We die, no question of that
And then the mortality ends.
The body dies, the spirit endures on
If there is resurrection or reincarnation,
None of those
None of those
Will extend this mortality one instant
Before birth
Or after death
But the spirit
The spirit does not draw breath, so it knows not mortality
I have spoken with the unborn and the deceased

How to speak with the dead and unborn?
Be someone the dead and unborn want to speak with
Be someone the dead and unborn are able to speak with

The dead wait for us
Those at peace are patient
Those in storms wait with agonies
But they all wait
We are all in between birth and death
The great movement of mortality
Pressing forward
The line of time
Forcing the direction,
Determining the destination

Death is the phone call too early in the morning
The news delivered only when we are sitting
The tragedy, the agony, the sudden cold emptiness
The tears that exhaust the eyes
The mournful haunting of memory ever after
Until we ourselves join with the dead

Death is the moment the body
No longer sustains the motion of the spirit
The spirit then departs
That which lacks integrity sufficient for
Breath of life

Death is neither success nor failure
It is neither good nor bad
It is inevitable, it is inescapable
It is foreordained, it is neither reward nor punishment
It is promised to us all
There is no need to hasten the day of its arrival
Be patient and enter the quiet of the wintry dawn, perhaps
Life is not a measure of how much we suffer
It is a measure of how much we love
It is a measure of how much we serve
And those who love and serve will know peace and calm
And those who love and serve not will know storm and stress

The Siberians are many: one of their tribes
Teaches we walk backwards into the future
We see only the past clearly
The future behind our backs as we walk backwards
We walk backwards towards death

Death is a Japanese garden
As winter rain falls
A spring awaits
But now, a peaceful rest

Is there a different form of life after death?
Ah, such is the stuff of what prophets speak
Which ones to heed?
If you love and serve, you will know
If you try to save your life, you will lose it
If you give freely, you will live as life should be lived
The breathless sleep but an interval between mortality
And that different form of life that perhaps comes to us
Love and serve, that is the key
Love and serve, you will be free to dream in the breathless sleep
Love and serve, and you will have peace before you have joy
Love and serve, and you will discover
Green beneath the snow

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