Family and Friends:
Francis died this morning at 1:25 am. My niece, Jane McGillicuddy began her
vigil with me since Saturday, 4:30 pm. She and three friends who made it
through the storm to be with me as we washed and oiled Francis' body, and
then relinquished it to the funeral home director, just left.
When it became obvious early afternoon that Francis' lungs were filling up,
which could signal the end, I received the email below with attachment from
Saadi (his Sufi name,) Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz, the Aramaic scholar who
created chants and prayer/movements for the Lord's Prayer and the
What perfect timing! As Francis began his transition, this precious chant
filled our room. It's from the Hebrew Scriptures' Song of Songs, -- "Set Me
As A Seal Upon Your Heart For love is as strong as death." Lee recorded it
through the computer as Francis and I sang it together only a few weeks ago.
It was one of our favorites.
What comes to mind for me right now is the image that Saadi has used many
times on retreats: that those who precede us (in what we call the past) are
ahead of us in the caravan of creation while the unborn (the future) come
from behind. Saadi has suggested a breathing practice I made my own from
A sacred word or mantra accompany a barely perceptibly rocking motion of the
body, and the head gently naturally goes along with the body, -- first
slightly leaning back on the inhalation and then very slightly leaning
forward on the exhalation, as if throwing a fish line ahead. It feels to me
like a prayerful reaching into the realm Francis has now entered to join the
ancestors. In my tradition we call it the "communion of the saints."
I hope you can play it.