Darkness and Silence

Roshi, our 13-year-old mini schnauzer, has prostate cancer. We’ve known this since June 26th, and have been trying to get used to the idea of his timeline coming to a close. We don’t know how long we have left with him, so every day is precious. He is in remarkably good spirits. But the signs are unmistakable now. Very frequent need to go outside for relief, some fatigue, and his legs aren’t what they used to be. We wanted to give him one last vacation, a vacation planned especially with him in mind. We found a lovely house, very private, and right near Rhinebeck. (Can’t resist putting in a plug here for VRBO—Vacation Rentals By Owner @ www.vrbo.com .)

It was perfect. We would all go together: us and Roshi and his buddy, Tash—a Tibetan terrier on loan to us for six months while his Person (Jill Satterfield, founder of Vajra Yoga, www.vajrayoga.com ) travels and works on the European continent.

So today, we packed our clothes, and music for the road, and dog beds and leashes and treats and food, and off we went. Singing in the car, we would check the back seat now and then, our two canines of contentment looking out their windows, watching the world go by, so happy to be with us. When we arrived, we walked the dogs, eventually letting them run their little tails off, unleashed, in the very large fenced pasture that surrounds the house.

It’s the middle of the night, and I’m awake. I opened the slider door and stepped outside. The night time here is deep and dark—and this darkness gives the stars a life they don’t have access to in New York City. What a miraculous sight.

Stars! Real, punctuated, living, shining, diamond-assed STARS.

Then there’s the silence.

Mirroring the way darkness vaults the stars into their true brilliance, this silence opens up a holy space for the sound of living things. The sound of nature—tiny critters moving in the field, birds moving around in their habitats, wind moving lazily through the trees, leaves unhinged, surrendered, spiraling downward. You can actually hear that all happening.

It’s humbling. It unwords you.
Suddenly I forget all the thinky clutter in my head
and I am ushered into the world
that my body has always been a part of
The world that is part of my body
that makes up my body
so that it’s no longer ‘me’ and ‘the world’
but just one entity made of
darkness and stars and
me and silence and sounds
and hands typing this message
to all of you, who are also part
of this vast and fathomless entity.

I hope I remember this
when Roshi makes his passage
so that I can hold my grief
at losing him
as that vast darkness
against which the stars of my joy
at having ever loved him at all
can shine their brightest.