~ Ram Dass
Our relationships with one another are part of the quotidian landscape of our lives; we live, and thrive, only in the shelter of each other. To cultivate a community, a tribe, of compassionate healers comprised of people who accept and live into the responsibility of relationship is an enormous challenge--none of us can go it alone, we need each other, but this no light burden we take up when we enter into all the risks of connection and intimacy. No matter what the nature of the relationship, whether that of mate or life partner, parent and child, intimate friendship--the responsibilities are the same. We share not only in the daily joys and pleasures, work and play, but we stand, then, prepared for that last, long walk home whenever and however it may come. We agree to be witnesses and companions to death, whether death comes, as it does to us all, at the end of our earthside sojourn, or the relationship itself dies--when we enter in to relationship with another person, we agree to walk each other home and that is a skill set, an endeavor of the heart and soul that we are not prepared for in a culture that fails not only to value and teach the skills we all need to sustain the relationships we create over a lifetime, but which fails even more profoundly to show us how to lay each other, and our relationships, to rest.
A proper "good bye" is not only appropriate, but healing to everyone concerned. Whether at the bedside of a beloved companion when they are dying, or over a final cup of coffee with someone with whom we've realized we no longer feel able to remain in relationship; everyone deserves the dignity of an honest and heartfelt farewell. We need to respect the magnitude of what it has meant, to both people, to have walked part of the journey together, realizing and standing in appropriate awe and wonder at the unique and unrepeatable beauty of that particular pairing for that stretch of precious time. No matter what differences and contentions have arisen between two people, something essential, true and loving once passed between them, and it deserves to be held in proper esteem and gratitude; we can walk each other home without rancor, without pain, only when we've fully embraced what it means to give part of ourselves to another. We live in a peopled place and our companions on the way shape us for everything else that is to come.
Love is the end for which we are created and how we offer and invest ourselves in others, and they in us, the truest measure of our worth.
When we connect deeply with another human soul, recognizing in them yet another of our healing partners, our kindred spirits on our life journey, let us remember, then, that held in the heart of each "hello" is always the question, "May I walk you home?"