This weekend Ted and started Andrew Weil's EIGHT WEEKS TO OPTIMUM HEALTH. We've been interested in the program for a long time, but weren't inspired to actually DO till it was recommended on Tim Ferris's (always interesting) blog. Week one is pretty simple. You eat broccoli and fish once during the week (which we do anyway), walk five times (ditto) and breathe consciously, i.e. meditate, for five minutes a day (Now that's an area I need to work on). Oh, and you also buy yourself flowers. Not too onerous, even for a habitual resolution breaker like me.
Keeping with the program, we' d started off on an energetic hike through the woods when we wandered into an old cemetery. Well, that was it for the walk. How could we not be stopped by history, by the stories cut in stone, and the infinite mystery they left behind? At times, those who occupied "our" world n seem like a distant rumor, but in the cemetery, they reclaim their names, their sacred alliances and beliefs , the tragedies that swept through their lives, and their own own ultimate release from them. In the shaded serenity of the cemetery, I was reminded of something I'd recently read by Anthony de Mello: "All mystics, no matter what their theology, are unanimous on one point: that all is well, all is well."
Though the oldest "occupants" were born in the eighteenth century, the first stone we came upon was that of FLORA, AGE 3. Flora as been dead long enough that lichen and decay have begun to erode the three-word biography recorded on her stone, but not so long ago that some living person doesn't still remember her or at least her story. I paused for a minute to wonder who.
We found soldiers from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the graves of young women (who had presumably died in childbirth) and were buried with their infants, and far too many markers for young children. Though their lives ended long ago, my heart still clenched when I encountered JOSEPH who lived for one year, four months, and eleven days, and for the family who numbered his days. However, I was also surprised by the number of nonagenarians the cemetery contained. It seemed that those who survived the perils of youth-- war and childbearing, and lived long enough to build up an immunity to the contagious diseases that claimed so many frequently achieved a ripe old age. Then again, neither the soldier and Christian patriarch above, nor the Temperance advocate below could have imagined a time when fish were less than abundant off the coast of Cape Cod, or when concerns about mercury or other contaminants made people afraid to eat them. Natural wholesome food, a life of vigorous activity, strong community and spirituality weren't something you had to read a book or make a resolution to acquire.
In addition to walking and eating broccoli and breathing (always a plus) I've been trying to learn a new song every week. As I've said here before, my voice has been known to scare cats and startle babies, but I still think Pete Seeger was right when he emphasized the importance of singing. For everyone. Even off-key divas like me.
He said it better than I can:
"Songs are funny things. They can slip across borders. Proliferate in prisons. Penetrate hard shells. I always believed that the right song at the right moment could change history."
To that end, I have begun my quest for the right song. This week it was this one. Sing it and remember that all is well. All is well.
Any suggestions for next week?