It seems normal to me that we all gather items around us which are familiar, that give us comfort or that inspire. Just look at the homeless who have shopping carts crammed to overflowing with possessions! So what happens when the homeless have those possessions taken from them? When periodic repeated “sidewalk sweeps” happen then loss becomes a way of life. Life has a way of demanding that we let go. Children go off to college, pets die, a comfortable pair of shoes finally wears out beyond all repair. Loss can generate the need to control and protect from further loss as is evidenced in hoarding of all sorts.
Trying to protect ourselves from loss can result in our living with a “besieged” mentality. We’re always on the lookout for loss’s approach and we never let down our guard. We can never be at our ease lest loss slip in the backdoor! This is no way to live. Life is not a prison sentence! Life… being in existence where once we did not exist… is an opportunity to grow into yet being even more alive. We cannot take Life’s journey if we are confined to a fortress. What needs to be embraced is the mindset of a pilgrim, someone journeying toward something like looking forward to the next great meal.
Having conducted funerals I have seen the various ways in which people deal with the loss of a loved one. I have seen calmness at the graveside as well as hysteria. I have seen resignation as well as resistance. I have seen a life celebrated as well as inconsolable grief that someone has been taken away. In many traditions a funeral and burial is followed by a meal sometimes referred to as a “mercy meal.” At such meals I certainly have seen sadness but more often than not an increased awareness of how special Life is seems to manifest itself. There is wild laughter, the laying down of inter-relational grievances, singing, dancing, kissing, hugging.
Food is basic to Life and to living. Food eaten with others becomes a meal. Life is a meal but one presented yet never eaten offers no nourishment. We should show our gratitude for being alive by eating the meal that Life offers even knowing that once eaten it will be gone… until the next one arrives on the table. The next time that you come across a homeless person, one who deals almost professionally with loss, buy a meal and give it to them… a gift to them instead of a loss.