David Roberts — I have discovered that for me, spiritual growth is driven by intent to develop a different perspective and by paying attention to connections in the universe that facilitate that different perspective.
[caption id="attachment_13774" align="alignright" width="260"] David Roberts[/caption]
The connections that we discover sometimes defy logic. Logic however, is based primarily on linear human laws. In the matter of the divine, logical and linear thinking does not apply. My shift in thinking was necessitated by the challenges presented by my daughter Jeannine's death at the age of 18 on 3/1/03, due to a rare form of cancer.
I have received signs of her presence throughout my journey. I interpreted these occurrences as an invitation to maintain a relationship with her, albeit in a different form. I welcomed her signs and the opportunity to continue the bond that we developed on earth. However, in the beginning of my journey, those signs were a bittersweet reminder of who and what I lost. Today her signs are a joyful reminder of what I have gained. The bond that we share goes beyond the father-daughter connection that we shared during her lifetime. She has turned into a wise spiritual teacher, who has allowed me to look beyond the confines of death to develop not only a greater understanding of not my place in the world, but my place in relation to humanity in general. Panache Desai has alluded to the fact that death can be an invitation to experience life. I would say that the struggle with Jeannine's death turned into an invitation to embrace life by a different set of rules, rules that have allowed me to find clarity and a sense of purpose that I never thought possible.
I want to give you a glimpse into the depth of the spiritual relationship that Jeannine and I share. In the days leading up to Jeannine's tenth angelversary date, I was drawn to a song called “Africa” by Toto. I watched the video of the song on Thursday 2/28/13. It was actually uploaded on You Tube, on 3/1/09. Needless to say, I believed there was a deeper meaning that Jeannine wanted me to discover. I listened to this song repeatedly, until this passage registered with me:
She's coming in 12:30 flight
That was all I needed to hear
Jeannine died at exactly 12:30 AM on 3/1/03.
After sitting with this for a bit, I felt a nudge to do some research on the Internet regarding the song's meaning and to discover its relevance to my journey. I found a quote from David Paich, of Toto, one of the songwriters of "Africa":
"At the beginning of the '80s, I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn't leave my head. I tried to imagine how I'd feel about it if I was there and what I'd do."(Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa_(Toto_song)
I initially felt that Paich's statement was empathetic in nature; but after further thought, it appeared to be more about his willingness to bear witness to the challenges of a culture with which he had no prior experience. In bearing witness, he allowed himself to be emotionally moved and in the process, express compassion for the African people. Compassion is an emotion that if genuinely expressed can break down cultural barriers and in the process create an atmosphere of cooperation and universality. In order to create universality, we must release any perceptions of uniqueness that we have. The process, if done with integrity, will reveal many lessons; lessons that we will need to own if we are to be part of a universalistic whole.
Here are some other observations from my experience with "Africa":
What if we believed that we lived additional lives and that our souls contracted for the challenges we were going to face in any incarnation of ourselves? What if in those incarnations, we chose to be black or Native American, gay or lesbian, and faced the challenges inherent to those cultures and individuals? Would we be more compassionate? Would we be more open to learning? Would we be willing to look beyond the surface for universal qualities that we all possess, that would contribute to a humane and peaceful planet?
If we could truly adopt as a universe, a commitment to compassionate presence and service to others as a way of life, we wouldn't need to express regret that it took death or another life-altering transition to develop this perspective. Choosing to live with regret keeps us stuck and prevents us from becoming whole. By committing to consistently treating others from all walks of life with compassion, we take regret out of the equation. Plus we create a world where integrity, benevolence, and absence of ego rules. When we are faced with addressing the challenges that life brings, we can focus on refining this perspective, rather than developing it as a result of our struggle with those challenges. As a result, we create a world that comes closer to what we envision life on the other side to be like. We create heaven on earth.
We are each an infinitesimally small part of the universe. And yet, we each carry the entire universe inside of us. - Dancing-with-Spirit
About the Author
David J. Roberts, LMSW, CASAC, became a parent who experienced the death of a child, after his daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. He is a retired addiction professional and is also an adjunct professor in the psychology and psychology-child life departments at Utica College, Utica, New York. Mr. Roberts also developed a topics course on Parental Bereavement issues, and has taught a Death, Dying and Bereavement course for Utica College. He is a volunteer for Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc, in New Hartford, New York and a member of the All Inclusive Care for Children Coalition.
Dave has presented trainings in counseling and education and has published articles in several journals. He has co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries. One is on navigating grief during the holidays and the other is on pet loss.
Dave is also a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation. Dave has also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Ron Villano show. To learn more about Dave and his work, visit his website www.bootsyandangel.com.