Dear Family and Friends,
Early after Francis' death I've visualized and planned for a tree planting ceremony, not just in Francis' memory, or in his honor, but to symbolize our love that is stronger than death, (Song of Songs 8:6.) and that keeps on growing. (My view is bolstered by theology. See my reference below* to Elizabeth Johnson's book.)
But when we plant it on June 12, I'll proclaim it's a tree that symbolizes your love too, all of your loves that keep on growing, not only Francis' and mine.
Some of you have told me that you feel close to Francis, that you light a candle or incense for him in your daily prayer, or that he came to you in prayer, or in a dream. One of you said she never felt the presence of someone who had died before, but she does feel Francis' presence. Another referred to "our beloved Francis" in an email yesterday. So I awoke yesterday morning with the idea of calling the tree -- "Our Beloved Francis Tree."
But there's another reason: Among other endearments, Francis and I often called one another "my beloved," especially I, toward the end of his life. So it's not surprising that during my twice daily Sitting Practice (aka Meditation, or Centering Prayer,) the word "beloved" very often comes up.
About a month ago, it suddenly came to me "out of the blue:" The noun "beloved" became the sentence "Be loved ! " Francis was telling me to -- "BE LOVED" !!
There's solid ground for this too: When I was learning how to pray as a young nun, we were told to just sit comfortably, relax, watch our breath slowing down, and, with or without a "Centering Prayer" word (or mantra,) to simply let ourselves be loved by God who IS Love.
I can't tell you how fruitful that one word, now also two words, have become in my life. I share these stories hoping they will give you fruit too.
So, come to our home, 62 Avalon Road, Portland, Maine 04103 on Saturday June 12 to celebrate the planting of "Our Beloved Francis Tree!" Arrive around 3:30 pm for a 4:00 pm tree planting followed by a supper potluck. (Rain day -- Sunday June 13)
By then our grapevines should be in bloom, and our fruit trees producing perhaps tiny cherries, plums and peaches, and the strawberries are likely to be ripe beside our lily-padded, frog inhabited pond with its solar powered waterfall. And we can't leave out our darling, entertaining chickens, running around in their elegant pen!!
I say "our" because it's Francis who helped me put in place the foundation (on our 8,000 sq ft lot) for this Permaculture Eden. Ours is a demonstration site for creating an edible landscape, or an ecological system in suburbia.
But, as our Permaculture Community members do every time we share food, if possible, along with food to share, please bring your own plate, bowl, utensils and cup. I'll provide napkins and yes, extras of everything for those who don't remember, but it would be a help if you did.
I have more Rowan stories to tell, but this email is long enough as is.
As the Buddhists say, -- May all beings be well, may all beings be happy. Peace, Peace, Peace.
Much love and gratitude,
* In her book Friends of God and Prophets, A Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion of the Saints," Elizabeth Johnson writes that "religious scholars...think that human development is perhaps not frozen at death but that maturity is a continuing possibility." (p. 188) And, -- that "heaven is the symbol of a community of love sharing the life of God. This entails forever exploring the absolute mystery of the Other with new discoveries forever abounding..."(p. 190)