OGDEN -- While the holidays are designed to be a happy time, they can also bring grief for those who have lost loved ones or experienced other losses in the past year.
The Rev. Nancy Nightingale of Ogden, an area interfaith minister, lost her husband, Art Roscoe, to cancer Dec. 20 last year.
As a means to help herself and others with grief, Nightingale has a sermon she has delivered at various churches throughout the area this past year.
She is available to take this sermon to other churches as requested.
"I feel like I gained a gift and I'm happy to share that with anyone," Nightingale said.
"Gabriel Horn's writings are about endings and beginnings -- the endings and beginnings of life, expressed as a cup of life from the Mystery, living in a way that our cup fills and expands with goodness, so much so that our death will enrich all life, and all those we love," she begins her sermon.
"Like the wind that is always blowing, life is flowing and it moves on," she tells those in attendance.
She tells how a year ago in September, she and her husband learned of his aggressive cancer, just three months before he died.
"You know, we don't deal well with 'endings' in the Western culture," she states in her sermon. "I've come to view it as a spiritual deficit. Our spiritual challenge is to keep our death in front of us and learn from it."
Nightingale said in her spiritual searching and interfaith studies and practices, she became aware of two realms of spirituality.
They are the turning upward toward the light and the turning downward toward nature.
She said turning upward aids people in transcending their egos, allowing them to reclaim the inner quiet, peace and wholeness of their true nature.
"It assists us in cultivating the blissful experience of being fully present in the moment and one with all of creation," she states in her sermon. "It is a beautiful spirituality."
Nightingale said death is one of the mysteries of nature.
"Although, equally sacred and probably even more ancient than the journey of ascent, this second spiritual realm may be unfamiliar to people of Western cultures," she states. "And yet, we seem to be hungering for it without even wondering what 'it' is."
Nightingale said it is this perspective that helped her most as she was losing her husband.
"Just as surely as a part died, a new beginning has been made," she said, explaining that life is cyclical.
"Only recently have we in the Western world begun to remember to draw on the cyclical wisdom of nature to help us as we experience birth, transformation and death, only to experience birth again," she states. "The ever-renewing cycles of life."
In her discussion Nightingale outlines how Western society has:
* Taken death out of life,
* Lost its cultural rites of passage, and
* Interrelated uncertainty, draining people of their ability to live life fully.
"While Art was ill and dying, I wrote letters to my friends. And those letters became for me, an essential part of my life with death," she states.
"Those letters were meditations that allowed me to see death as part of life and to place it in the context of the living. It was both ending and beginning."
She said she and her husband spent their final days together living in the moment.
"We celebrated anything and everything," she states. "Awareness of death brought us fully alive. What a gift."
Nightingale has studied with shaman teachers for years.
"My teachers taught me that death stalks us in life, and that if we are to learn from it, we must make it our companion," she states. "If we can befriend our own death, we can learn how to live. There is wisdom in that."
Nightingale explains the rites of passages celebrated in indigenous cultures, each with its own death to some former way of being.
"It is dying to who you have been in the world so that you can step more fully into who you are becoming, or who you are intended to be, the giver of a unique gift to the world," she states.
She said incorporating rites of passage into one's life may better prepare that person for death.
"We can do this at the end of each day, the end of each month, of each season and each year -- die to who we have been, set goals for becoming more expansive, compassionate beings and celebrate all we have been and will become," she states.
Allowing oneself to be uncertain gives a person the gifts of the present moment, choice, and allows a person to experience the immensity of time.
"Uncertainty can free us from the need to keep taking our temperature as to how optimistic or pessimistic we are in the moment," she states.
And being present allows us choice, she said.
"Only in the present moment can you choose what you are going to do," she states. "We can choose our intention."
Regarding the opportunity to experience the immensity of time, she said:
"By engaging in a dance with uncertainty, (my husband and I) found ourselves living in a series of present moments, filled with radical amazement and gratitude. In retrospect it was a short time, but living it was timeless, beautifully timeless."
Area groups or congregations interested in having Nightingale present her sermon or other topics at their meetings may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.