A good friend had set off on a journey to the Great Mystery, a term used by Starry Song to refer to other dimensions of existence. Mystery was also the word used by Li Tzu to translate the Invisible World in the Tao Te Ching, as the Elder used to say. Loureiro liked to use the term Universe. Religious currents use different names, from the Heavens to the Spiritual Sphere. There are many names, just as there are many paths that lead to the same destination, for which multiple stops are necessary. Fausto was a very dear friend. Cheerful, affectionate, always in good humour and with a word of encouragement or praise for anyone he spoke to. His keen eye allowed him to see the virtues in people and the good in every situation. He called everyone by their nicknames as a demonstration of his sincere affection. He found it very easy to make new friends, just as he dedicated himself to cultivating old ones. People liked being around him. It’s not hard to imagine the crowd at his funeral. Some mourned his departure, while others recalled fun stories they’d had with him. There were many cases and adventures. I exchanged a few words with the widow, who was supported by a group of friends dedicated to offering the emotional comfort she needed at such a delicate time. Then I said a prayer, praying that my friend would make a smooth transition. In the immensity of silence, I prayed that he would continue to enjoy life after existence as happily as ever. That’s when my attention was drawn to Tiago, his teenage son, sitting alone in a corner. There was so much emotion and so many people who knew each other gathering around, everyone having an enormous need to emphasise Fausto’s memory, that Tiago had been forgotten. He had a shy temperament, with few words and friends, very different from his father. The fact that he had never demanded or called attention to himself perhaps contributed to the fact that he was not being paid attention to at that moment. His sad eyes mirrored the exact feeling in his heart. I approached him and opened my arms. He stood up and we exchanged a tight hug. I love hugs, they give us a wonderful cosy feeling. With his head resting against my chest, Tiago burst into sobs. The tears were contained, like a dammed river. The floodgates opened and the energy showed its nature. Although I wanted to fulfil the protocol typical of funerals, I couldn’t think of any words to cool his grief. Although I wanted to talk to some of the colleagues there, and I hadn’t met them for a long time, I preferred to sit next to Tiago. Even if that meant to be silent.
In silence, I intended to offer as much solidarity as I could with my physical proximity. I’ve never liked speeches in which solidarity is practised from a distance. Like when people say my heart is with you or I’m present in spirit. I’m not saying they’re liars, I believe in their honesty. However, those words are not enough. We are in matter, we live in the third dimension. We have a solid body. This makes presence and physical contact indispensable. It’s not always possible to be present, but when there’s the slightest possibility, we should never refrain to do it. I learnt this when on one occasion, at a very young age, I found myself faced with enormous sadness and, more seriously, completely lost, with no idea of what direction to take. Some people offered words of consolation and said that I could go to them if I felt like it. They were being sincere and there was value in that. However, I needed a new path and no one could offer me that. Every day, in the late afternoon, when the sadness was overwhelming, I would go for a walk on the beach. For some reason that I can’t explain, this ritual brought me some comfort. Upon hearing about this, Augusto, a childhood friend, without making any arrangements with me, began to wait for me at a certain point on the route every day. When he met me, without saying anything, he would walk alongside me, shoulder to shoulder. When I had enough of walking, we’d each head home. We never exchanged a single word on these daily walks, which lasted for months. In his wisdom, Augusto understood that there was nothing to add to everything I had been told. He knew that I needed time to metabolise the facts, understand their meaning, transmute them in me and find the meaning I was missing. It wasn’t time for words, but for movement to show me that I would never be alone. His attitude was invaluable because of the emotional comfort it gave me. When the heart is calm, the mind flows lightly. As valuable as words and prayers were, and are, physical presence was the difference. It offered me the support that words couldn’t provide. It was the love I needed.
I sat next to Tiago for minutes that I can’t pinpoint. When the cemetery staff took his father’s body away for cremation, he reached for my hand and squeezed it tightly. I saw a tear escape from his eye. It was a difficult moment and I could almost feel his pain. Gradually, people left. In the end, his Mum remained, supported by her closest friends and the two of us. When he realised she was getting up to leave, Tiago asked if he could talk to me for a while. I told him I was there for that too and, if his mother allowed it, I’d drop him home afterwards. It was a conversation I didn’t even know where to start.
Tiago led the way. He wanted to know if we could talk right there. I shrugged and said it would be wherever he felt most comfortable. The boy, still in his sixteenth year, asked me if it bothered me that we were in a cemetery. I explained my point of view: “Undoubtedly, it’s a place that brings up painful emotions in many people, the issue of death is not well resolved for many people. I think it gives the wrong impression of being a haunted place, dominated by dense energies. I used to think that too, but I’ve rewritten that idea. The ancient sages called the place where we are The Holy Field, and they did so with good reason.” As his eyes showed interest, I continued: “Few places are as protected on the etheric plane as cemeteries. Powerful guardians working in the service of the Light are constantly at work to protect spirits who are no longer attached to their bodies, but have not yet left this plane for some reason. As they are disorientated from their new reality, they are vulnerable to attacks from dark entities and need a lot of protection until they are ready to be sent to other existential spheres”. I then added: “This is just a very brief summary of a very complex subject that involves several other important aspects. There is a lot of serious literature on the subject and, if you’re interested, I can lend you some books.” I paused and concluded: “I’m only saying this in an attempt to demystify the fear and prejudice that cause some people to feel uneasy when they enter a cemetery. Just like churches and temples of Light, or even natural sanctuaries such as seas, rivers and mountains, or cathedrals such as beaches, waterfalls and forests, all sacred ground must be trodden with great respect for the sacred that it anchors, guards and represents.”
Tiago said that, after what I said, he would like to continue our conversation right there. I suggested we go and sit on one of the many benches scattered around the alleys that criss-crossed the huge lawn. Once we were settled, he asked me why good people died while bad people lived on. I looked at him: “Everyone dies, the good and the bad. Death is not a bad thing. We hold this view because of our predominantly existentialist perspective and, consequently, excessive attachment to matter. This planet is a school that trains great teachers, but the curriculum is extensive and the students are not always dedicated. Death is an act of love and wisdom from life towards us.”
Tiago asked me to explain further, so I tried: “Several good reasons can be listed. From starting over in different conditions of existence as a way of helping to leverage new evolutionary cycles, to the indispensable regeneration of strength to continue the planetary journey at the peak of our abilities. However, the reason that in my eyes most demonstrates the love and wisdom of death as a loyal ally of life is the inevitable lesson that we stubbornly fail to apply in everyday life: the real and infinite value of the virtues added to the spirit before mere appearance, the finiteness of merely physical pleasures and material wealth. Death is a teacher in this matter.
At this point in the narrative, a parenthesis is essential to explain to the reader an apparent contradiction, which it would not be fair to avoid discussing. In the opening paragraphs of the text, I talk about the importance of hugs and physical contact in everyday life. In the following sections, I emphasise the value of spirit over matter. Perhaps it’s time to fire the author for his absolute incoherence. Before you do that, and with good reason, let me explain myself. I promise I’ll be succinct because of the clarity of my ideas on the subject. I hope I have the ability to convey them in such a way that they seem sensible and understandable.
The value of the spirit over the physical is unquestionable, both because of its infinitude and because of the imperishable wealth of expanded perceptions and virtues that the soul has acquired on its journey to the Highlands. Nothing else is mine, except who I am. I am only the intensity of the Light that already shines within me. All that is solid is broken down by the action of time. Thus, all the things in the world only serve as learning tools for us. However, let’s pay attention to one detail that everyone knows but seems to forget: people are not things. Each being is part of the same Whole to which you and I also belong. This part I’m referring to is the spirit that animates the body we wear; although the body rots, the spirit will remain infinitely alive, trapped in its own shadows or driven by the virtues added to it. As isolated parts, we travel to meet the Whole and integrate to the extent of our own evolution. But what is evolution if not loving more and better? Isn’t the planet a school for future masters like you and me? In this way, physical contact has the primary purpose of teaching us some of the many aspects we still don’t know about love. We need to understand love through the body as a prerequisite for knowing love beyond the material plane. You can’t learn trigonometry before you know the basic operations of mathematics. One step at a time. We learn when we give and also when we receive; touch, smiles, hugs, a look and a kiss move us and make love perceptible; otherwise, love would be unreal in the infancy of the soul. By our own ignorance, we use the thesis of incorporeal love as an excuse to justify laziness, self-indulgence and postponing the action of love as a physical movement. In this way, we waste countless opportunities to learn to love more and better. Here I close the parenthesis in the hope that the reader will continue to accompany me in the narrative, henceforth no longer as a spectator, but as an accomplice in the love I’m trying to understand.
Tiago wanted to know how I felt about his father. I was honest: “There is a lot of complexity between the appearance and the reality of any person. So much so that the biggest and best part of myself I still don’t know. As for Fausto, a striking feature of his personality was the art of gentleness, a virtue typical of those who take care of the world like a gardener that demonstrates the importance of flowers by the attention paid to each one of them. Your father did this with no effort, because it was a true attribute ingrained in his spirit. Everyone felt valuable around him. It’s worth emphasising that there was no demagoguery, these were genuine and authentic gestures. His eyes pierced through the thick walls of appearance to see the fragility of afflicted hearts. An ability to see things that is typical of a soul that has already blossomed”. The boy looked at me curiously and commented that his father always used the word blossom when he was giving him advice about life: “Blossom, son! He used to advise me”. He clarified that he had never understood the exact meaning of this verb, to blossom. I tried to explain: “Every verb means an action. Therefore, it requires an intrinsic movement in order to be completed in our attitude”.
At that moment I realised that to love is also a verb and in order for it to migrate from dream to reality it needs an effective gesture to move this feeling from the inside out, without which it won’t be completed.
I then asked Tiago: “When we say that a rose has blossomed, what is the meaning of the expression?”. The boy replied that the rose, until then in bud, had allowed all its beauty to be revealed to the world. The boy’s eyes showed the understanding that was coming as he put it into words. It was enough for me to add: “To blossom is to unleash all the potential that I hold in seed. It’s discovering my gift, accepting my dreams, understanding the power of virtues, revealing my essence, making me my best invention.”
“It is softening the harshness of all my relationships, it is blunting the razor’s edge by realising that I can offer the other face, the face of light, in the moments when darkness looms. It’s untying the knots of sorrow that bind me so much and prevent me from carrying on with the necessary lightness, without which I won’t be able to enchant the world with the beauty of my essence or let myself be enchanted by the wonders of life.”
“Blossoming is the greatest expression of life and the meaning of the seed’s existence. It happens when the essence germinates into light.”
With tears in his eyes, the boy said that his father had blossomed: “The world was a better place when we were by his side”. I nodded, it was impossible to deny. Tiago continued: “Ideas became clear, dreams became possible and life became joyful”. He paused to finalise Fausto’s concept of flourishing: “My father’s heart was a good place to live”.
I couldn’t disagree, but he had to remember two fundamental aspects: “Your heart also needs to become a good place for you to live and welcome the world. Otherwise, there will be no flourishing. Furthermore, never forget that no two species are the same, each flower is unique and therein lies its charm and beauty. Be inspired by your father, but be who you came to be. Designs, colours and perfumes, in order to flourish we need to love what makes us different, because only then will we be able to add the part that is ours and that is still missing from the Whole. There is no greater marvel. Out of that authenticity, life is just plagiarism”.
It was getting dark. It was time for the Holy Field to close its doors to the public and reopen the following day. We didn’t speak until I left him at home. Tiago thanked me for the conversation and, before saying goodbye, he said: “My father left me his inheritance in the form of essential guidance for life: Blossom, son! In one sentence, he taught me how to find my bearings”. With tears in my eyes, I watched as his mother welcomed him with a hug and they went inside. The seed was in fertile soil.
Translated by Cazmilian Zórdic.