Monday, April 10, 2006

Human Candles


This Saturday I saw him again and I believe it now. In the last two weeks, such changes. He is so much thinner. I used to think of him as a solid block--sturdy, hewn--as if of wood or stone--elemental. But he hasn't been able to eat, he is strung between chemo and steroids, and his flesh is turning to light. It is true, that people who are dying emit light. Or perhaps we always emit light, but the closer our bodies get to the end, the less the light is obscured--the shutters of the body (that strange lantern that carries us, that we carry) are cracked, and then thrown open, and the light emerges. Light in place of flesh. Does pain generate this light? Does love? Is it disease? Is it the phosphorescent net of tumors, lurid with chemicals? Is it simply life itself, that life is light, light in us?
And then we go out.

In the zendo, you aren't supposed to blow out candles or incense. You wave them out. I don't know why this is. Perhaps the connection between breath and life--we want to avoid the breath that extinguishes. In the same way we vow to protect and uphold all life. Keep the candles burning. And wave them out when they have to go. Wave at the light. Wave it all the way out.

2 Comments:

Blogger Boz said...

I agree about the skin emitting light when you are close to death. I remember how translucent my father's skin was the last few months of his life.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Boz said...

... vow to protect and uphold all life.
I like that.

10:35 PM  

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