August 22, 2010

Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey

Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

My mother-in-law has given birth to five babies, miscarried one, and has been present at the births of at least 3 other babies.  She has also been present with at least 3 or 4 people as they died.  She always talks about how the processes are so clearly the reverse of each other - watching the life come into a baby as it starts to breathe; seeing the life leave a dying person as they stop breathing.  I have not been present at a death, but what she says makes sense to me.  

This isn't a book about birth or dying, exactly.  It's about the process the human soul goes through preparing for either birth or - Bolen's main focus - death or recovery from serious illness.  In some ways, there isn't a lot of difference between preparing to die or preparing to live or give life.  It's a preparation for change from one state of being to a different state of being.

There are many passages in this book I feel enriched by and know I will use in different ways.  This is one of my favorites:  

"I hope that I can die well - whatever that may mean - when the time comes. . . . When I was pregnant and knew I would be going into labor and delivery for the first time, I also hoped I could do it well.  I did not really know what it would be like . . . Just as I wanted a natural childbirth because I wanted to be conscious, so do I want to be conscious at the moment of my death.  Some people want to be asleep when they die, just as many women want to be unconscious when they deliver babies.  Also, I wanted my newborns to come when they were ready to come, just as I hope to die when I am ready to go."

August 7, 2010

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer

"He put his hand in her hand.
He put his hand to her heart.
Sweet is the sleep of hand-to-hand.
Sweeter still the sleep of heart-to-heart."


That's my personal favorite stanza in the poems :-)

This is a rich, textured, complex text - both the translated poems from ancient Sumer, but also the commentary.  I enjoyed it.  It makes so much more sense than the very cryptic version I read on-line more than a year ago.  I'm also glad to have read more of the context of the Inanna's Descent story we use in Birthing From Within classes.

I want to tell Inanna's story many more times so I get it more and more deeply!