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Covered with Flowers

July 30, 2013

by Stephen Damon

This evening, I’d like to share a poem I wrote to be read at a flower petal ceremony that the Zen Guest House offers to families who have just lost a loved one. It’s a simple but profound ceremony in which family and friends gather to put multicolored flowers petals on the body. After the body is covered with reds, yellows and blues people offer last thoughts and memories of the person whom they have lost. Sometimes there are tears and sometimes there is laughter. There is always love. Occasionally there is just a heavy silence and one of the volunteers will often say a few words from the Metta Sutta: May he be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. When I hear those ancient words that I have chanted in one form or another thousands of times I am filled what I can only call an objective compassion for life.

A few weeks ago while reading an adaption of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, I wrote down a few words that I thought might help people say goodbye to a loved one.

Covered with flowers
Surrounded by friends

The time has come
For you to start out.

The journey is long
But do not fear

You will not get lost
You know the way—

You are going home.


Shawn L. Bird

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From → Zen Buddhism

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