Living Into the Sunsets and Sunrises

Post by Diana Turner-Forte

Image by Gael McKenzie

Diana is an Elder in our Wildly Free Elder community. She came to us via synchronicity and on the wings of love. A special member of our women’s elder group she has blessed us with her willingness to let go into the spaciousness and challenges of Elderhood – and with her beauty, artistry, curiosity and transparency. Thank you Diana for sharing the depths of your journey with us…..

My Lunar Year began learning of the death of a dear friend. Both words “dear” and “friend” carry significance in this case as they are words of endearment that one thinks might evolve from years of being together and numerous shared stories both tragic and uplifting. That is not the case here. Ankya was a woman I met through an elder women’s ZOOM group. She lived on the other side of the world, Australia and we had not known each other for very long, less than a year, maybe. The group came together spontaneously and in some ways miraculously. The fleeting times together left a mark that reminds me of the power of connectedness.

Anyway, the information sent me into a tail spin requiring I take some time to work through my feelings of inner despair. Caught off guard and in deep anguish I felt I had to replay why this particular death had touched me at such a gut level. It’s not as if I hadn’t ever experienced death of people I cared about before this time in my history: both sets of parents and grandparents, a brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and classmates have left this world and me, wondering about death and the other side of the veil.

However, with the death of Ankya, I became temporarily immobilized. Her image was constantly floating in my peripheral vision and I would tear up over just about anything. It seemed as if I was unraveling. It was a visceral kind of grief. Potential factors could have been the suddenness of her death, the inability to see her alive and expressive face again and witness her embodied essence, the proximity of age pointing to my own mortality, or it could be I was just death weary from the past few years of constant reminders and fears of death and dying during the global pandemic. Whatever the case it seemed as if I had received an invitation into personal inquiry and perhaps discovery.

Ankya was part of an intimate group of elder women ranging in age from 60-75 who had come together on ZOOM to explore kinship — building friendships with no particular agenda but to lift each other up, engage in meaningful conversation, and hold sacred space for each other. We were not gathering to solve the world’s problems or listen to each other’s aging woes.

We walk a fine line between living and dying, perhaps not voiced but dedicated to expressing a cosmic joy of life and shared community. As creative people we are a sensitive group to begin with—all expressing ourselves through art, writing, dancing, teaching, photography: walking this earth humbly and gently. As the psalmist says:

Still bearing fruit in old age,

still remaining fresh and green.

Another source for this introspection coincidentally arose from the increasing number of personal friends who are sick, recuperating from surgery, and other personal traumas. They are still suffering and Ankya just walked into the sunrise. I guess what struck me was that one day she was fully embodied on this earth and the next she was walking away from us—on a sandy Australian beach, bare foot, in white slacks, a straw hat, and a scarf hanging over one shoulder with one hand raised in the air as if to say “goodbye”—as captured in a photo by one of the group members. Certainly, there seemed to be no grasping or holding on— just taking the next step in her evolution.

Through my personal desolation, the image of her casually walking away reminded me of what Thomas Aquinas suggested that we all need to do—keep living in wholeness, harmony, and radiance to the very end. It’s a subline kind of beauty that draws us to the edges and brings us back to center. If we take a cue from nature sunrises and sunsets are regenerative. Sunsets constantly give way to sunrises. As Carlos Castaneda said:

To be young and vital is nothing. To be old and vital is sorcery.

Later reviewing her websites again, I was graced with videos of her photographic art, poetry and design, receiving even more beauty —breathtaking and resonating with the words of Rumi —

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

Once I resolved my sadness and could embrace the discomfort I drew a deep sigh. It seems fitting for me to close with this Navajo Blessing Way Prayer:

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, may I walk.

With beauty behind me, may I walk.

With beauty above me, may I walk.

With beauty below me, may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

I sense that I may have acquired more patience, mercy, and forgiveness through this passage. Whether in fleeting moments or long-term friendships may we always walk in beauty, love, and joy, reveling in the mysteries of life and death.

Diana Turner-Forte

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Gaye Abbott, Wildly Free Elder, 02/03/23

One Comment on “Living Into the Sunsets and Sunrises

  1. As Carlos Castaneda said:

    To be young and vital is nothing. To be old and vital is sorcery.

    Diana, I’d not yet heard this C. Castaneda quote. TY for sharing it and your sorceress’ journey of the last month. I was reading the intro to Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen book 📖 Sensing, Feeling and Action earlier today. She made note of just how difficult a task one undertakes when translating experiences into words. Your words have translated your body’s “thought, feeling, energy, soul and spirit” experience in a way that resonates as a truth within my skin.

    May you continue to revel as well.

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