I have chosen a painting by Rothko to illustrate my theme. Rothko based his paintings on the use of simple colours. As we know, colour is very emotive. His aim, he said, was to reduce people to tears through his paintings and it seems he succeeded in this.
I have chosen this theme as a result of lockdown. It is some time since I have written a blog, the reason being that in May I suffered two panic attacks, not too serious in themselves, but because of the result they had on me.
I was very, very frightened when I had these panic attacks as I thought I was dying. They reduced me to a state of weakness where I felt I had aged by at least ten years, and I was aware of the constant beating of my heart.
I was frightened not so much of the thought of death as of what would come after I died. Would I cease to exist or would I find myself in some kind of limbo, or would it be all light and love as we have been told. Frankly, I did not know, and that was what scared me.
Since that time I have recovered, both physically and mentally. I took a tonic which I think helped me to get back my physical strength, and with it my mental faculties.
What is interesting is that I am no longer afraid of dying. I feel that I have brushed against it and in some way it is now always with me, life and death, two sides of the same coin. It has also, in an interesting way, brought me up to the plate. It has become very important to me to find our what does happen after death.
Which is why I embarked on a course of intensive reading, in which I feel I have been led. I started with The Human Search, being reflections on his life and philosophy by the Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths. Bede Griffiths felt the call to go out to India to find, as he put it, the other half of his soul. His aim was to bring East and West together. He was a man of great erudition; he studied all the religions and out of his vast knowledge he was able to arrive at a synthesis showing that, like the petals of a flower, all religions have the same centre. I followed this by reading his book Return to the Centre.
Prior to that I had been reading the biography of Teresa of Avila, which led me recently to pick up a book which had long been on my bookshelves but which I had never looked at. This was a book by Caroline Myss called Entering the Castle, which is based on Teresa of Avila’s book The Interior Castle. The synchronicity has not been lost on me. It is the journey of the soul.
Which brings me up to the present day. Once a month I meet up with a group of friends for reflection and meditation. I do not know what brought the subject up, but we were talking about death. My friend has recently become an Interfaith Minister, she is also a Catholic. She was telling me about what she felt were disturbed energies in the Care Home where she works. Several sightings had been made in the Home of ‘whirling lights,’ and also apparitions. She felt that she needed to clear the energies round the Home and she consulted a friend who was more familiar with the concept of moving souls who had passed on – ‘ into the light’ – as her friend described it.
My friend said she felt that her Interfaith Ministry had given her more confidence to raise this matter in her work environment. She did so and, as a result, she felt empowered to carry out the process, very successfully.
Somehow this made a powerful impression on me. I had absolute confidence in my friend’s integrity, knowledge and reliability, and therefore I had complete faith in her experience.
Prior to to our conversation today I had been feeling very low and dispirited, lonely and out of sorts, not knowing what my future step was to be.
After my meeting with my friends today, I felt a sudden upsurge of energy as though all my doubts and fears had been swept away. I decided to write this blog straight away.
I do not know what effect this blog will have on anybody who reads it, no doubt it will be different, depending on their openness and knowledge of what I am talking about. I would like to think that it will have an impact of some sort, leading at least some people to think a bit more about the subject. Some people may already know more about it than I do.
What I would like is for it to start a discussion, and why not? I think lockdown has made us all very much more aware of death and of how it has impacted on so many lives.
The fact that I have been brought to an acceptance of death and what comes after seems to me of supreme importance. Death is universal, it comes to us all. Why not then meet it openly, without fear, and as a friend, which in fact it is.
I have been looking at Rothko’s painting, which I chose randomly, but on studying it I can see its significance. The initial impact is of darkness, and then gradually one becomes aware of shapes and forms, what could be a dark grey sea, a horizon, a sky, dark shapes in the sky. At the edge of the horizon there is light. It could be the portal into the next world. It is very beautiful.