"It's happening," she mused, "becoming one, the land and I."
Some months before, Pam's stroke while walking on the land began to bring things closer—her remaining time, and the land itself. With end-of-life approaching, coming home to the land she'd loved for decades with the Manitou Project now seemed so right.
Her release to its embrace in a purely natural way was her last wish, coming back to us now and in the rustle of leaves and light birdsong—such gentle reminders of how we are loved and embraced by more than we know.
The crackling fire and warm stories around Pam's winter burial could not be more distinct from the summer honoring of her old friend, Rupa, that followed
When Rupa was close to death, she was asked about burial in the Manitou woods: "Next to Pam, why of course! With my friends circle dancing around me..." —which is just what happened. At that last dance, over 100 showed up for what we all knew would be special.
A procession walked the path of pine needles, single file, led by flute and drum and the flower-draped handcrafted casket to the burial place others had accessed by wheelchair and walkers. Interfaith blessings and chants, songs shared by jubilant birds, and reflections went longer than anyone planned, but everyone stayed. We circle danced around the open grave and willing hands returned the soil atop the casket.
When we knew it was time, we left in small groups, new friends walking together, agreeing they'd never been part of such a glorious sendoff, much less shared such joy with a parting.
“The embrace of the forest on that heart opening day of beauty, love and loss transported us in ways that have never left us.”
—Amer Latif, Rupa end-of-life celebrant
Higher Ground Conservation Burial
300 Sunset Lake Road
Williamsville, Vermont 05362