This blog came to me learning over my window at seat 37A marveling at the magnificence of the Rockies. I was flying from Denver to Albuquerque on the last leg of my return from two days with three of the remaining eight Union Queens, my high school buddies. One barely managed to join us after a hospital stay. It was clear that 2016 was our final reunion.
October 26, 2016 would be the twentieth anniversary of the death of Virginia Nora Neunuebel Browne— my mother. Both my mother and my father died during their 85th year; my 85th year began on October 21st.
November 2, Día de los muertos, the beloved Mexican holiday was days away.
All pointed to the end of life, specifically my life.
Above the drone of the engines and the cry of a baby two rows ahead, a song played in my head, sung at a mediation retreat in the Sandia Mountains that surround Albuquerque.
The 121st psalm, set to music by Shlomo Carlebach:
Esa einai el heharim, me’ayin me’ayin yavo ezri
I lift up my eyes unto the mountains (Although, thanks to Southwest Air, I was looking down on the mountains.)
From whence comes my help?
Ezri me’im Hashem, Oseh shamayim va’aretz
“My help comes Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth”
And how will the maker of heaven and earth help me accept mortality?
I feel the answer: Knowing I am embedded in the mountains, and the whole of heaven and earth, gives my life and death value, connected as it is to the core of the universe.
Why do I know that in my deepest heart of hearts?
Not a clue, but being confident that the force variously called HaShem, Adonai, Shehekianu Lord, Allah, and all names forgotten through the ages, binds this mighty creation into a whole is enough for me.
And in the words of Nat King Cole song,
“That’s all there is to that.”
And why do I depend so much on the lyrics of songs?