The black wrought iron bench was toasty-warm today where I sat watching lake side trees sway against the gentle wind. I hear Michael Buble’s catchy lyric, “Like a flower bending in the breeze, Bend with me, sway with ease.” The wind today was coming from the Fraser River Valley in Canada, but it is spring, not winter. Normally wind comes from the south around here in the Puget Sound area and our trees know that. They are genetically disposed to sway with the southern winds. When those winds howl down from Canada in winter accompanied by cold temperatures, we can be in trouble. It happened one winter when I lived in a rural wood. I woke up to the sight of eighteen trees uprooted on the road behind me. They can’t handle seventy-mile-an-hour sustained northern winds.
Recent deaths of siblings and friends have felt like those seventy-mile-an-hour winds, causing me to wonder how long I will need to brace against death’s onslaught. I am coming to realize that the ageless human ritual of bracing against death is futile. It simply comes when it comes. Unlike trees in the Northwest United States, our souls are genetically disposed to withstand onslaughts from all sides. I want to bend and sway with the wind of death instead of wasting energy trying to control its arrival.
As I sit on this black bench in spring wind, the image of a Day of the Dead shrine on my home altar comes to teach me. The bone woman is dressed in a vivid red dress trailing a pink ruffle. Blue, yellow and pink feathers festoon her wide-brimmed hat. She dances with death, swaying and bending to the timeless music of life. I hope to be carried out of this life on a celebratory wind. No kicking and screaming. No raging. I want to “go gentle into that good night.”