Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sky: My Spiritual Life

Note from Jane: Sky and I recently attended the Dementia Action Alliance conference in Atlanta where we were co-presenters (with Linn Possell) of a workshop entitled, "Nurturing a Dementia-Friendly Spiritual Life." These are the words that Sky read at the beginning of the workshop.

What I believe…..a work in progress

As a species, we human beings have a great capacity to feel and act for good and/or for harm, in close to equal power. This power extends to the capacity to foul our own nests with over population and excess consumerism leading to the extinction of hundreds of thousands of life forms, including our own. The wheels have already been set in motion, mass extinctions have become inevitable, how far will they go?

Remarkably, despite numerous opportunities, and threats, we have so far avoided using nuclear weapons again, our most imminent threat of mass extinction. Continuing to stay alive and love as the technology of war and death ramp up on all sides is cause for celebration.

What we call Nature will continue. Nature doesn’t need us to keep doing what she has been doing so successfully for over 4 BILLION YEARS: building mountains, eroding them back down, floating continents around over the tectonic plates under them, the whole shebang greased with molten rock and iron.

Whenever I spend time in the familiar landscape of my Vermont home, I am reminded of the power that creates it, and how miniscule my concerns are in comparison. The mountains are always there for me, without complaint, so solid and strong, ready to receive whatever human-based whining I have to offer. The lakes and rivers, too, are there for me, always flowing, moving, creating.

Thank you, Rocks and Water.

Three years ago, I was hit with a doozy when a PET Scan noted problems with my brain’s utilization of glucose, its primary nutrient, adding that the scan was also consistent with early signs of Alzheimer's Disease.

Bring on the Devastation!!!!

The neurologist’s mournful tone and the content of his words combined to feel like nails in a coffin, and my spirit sank like a stone. The doctor assessed my remaining lifespan at six to ten years, offered me Aricept, and had very little else to say as I walked out of the office, stunned.

All I could focus on was the losses big and small including the loss of my identity, who I was. I didn’t know where that could lead except to more losses.

I floated in and out of denial for several months.

Going for long bike rides helped to ground me. There are two bike paths where I live that run along Lake Champlain, and I went there in all kinds of weather when I needed to find peace. There is a beautiful sculpture next to one of the bike paths on the edge of the water — a replica of standing stones — and I would find myself going there. Besides the sculpture there are vestiges of shipwrecked boats, artistic in their own way. And beyond them, the broad lake with the Adirondack mountains towering over the west shore.

Going there provides me with a sense of mystery, a sense of things being unfinished. Helping me be comfortable with my diagnosis, my dementia, not knowing where this is leading. I can find peace being there, I can lose my terror, I can understand that the world is still unfolding, and so am I.

At the end of that bike path, there is an accessible tree house. I like to climb up — easily since it’s accessible to all — and nest myself in this giant oak. It’s a very alive place. I have always loved trees, being in the woods, and here I can get a taste of that without leaving town. I respect the woods because the life forms there know what to do, and they always have. Knowing that I, too, am a life form, it takes the pressure off — somewhere, inside, I too know what to do. I too am part of creation, and the unfolding of all — wherever we are headed.

My wise niece once told me — everything will work out OK in the end, if it’s not OK, it’s not the end. That God has better plans for you than you do for yourself. That the Goddess provides. And that you are always embraced by an endless love.


  1. So beautifully written and life affirming. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I wonder if we get so caught up in defining ourselves in terms of what we “do” because “doing” is concrete; there are boundaries and parameters, something that can be finished. What we “do” is known and there’s comfort in familiarity.

    Yet Sky, I hear you making space for “a sense of mystery, a sense of things being unfinished”, the unknown. That seems to me like an act of great courage. How do I find your strength and make friends with the mystery? By reading and rereading your words, “somewhere, inside, I too know what to do. I, too, am part of creation, and the unfolding of it all- wherever we are headed.”

    You needed to write about spirituality. I’d say you nailed that! Thank you!
    Mary Y

  3. Beautifully expressed, Sky, and perfect for your topic. I have such admiration for your courage as you face into the unknown. Blessings on you.

  4. This writing touches me deeply, Sky, and fits in beautifully with guest preaching I'm doing this weekend in Modesto. Okay if I quote some of this in my sermon? (My announced theme is Resisting Fear, Cultivating Hope and Joy.) Blessings on your journey and gratitude for sharing your writings.