Once, long ago, a father asked the Rinzai Zen master Sengai for a blessing for his family’s prosperity, to be treasured from generation to generation. Sengai took out his brush and ink and wrote, “Parents die, children die, grandchildren die.” The man was furious! Was this a cruel joke? Sengai explained: “If your family passes away in the natural order I have named…I call this real prosperity.”
It’s expected that parents will die and, much later, their children will die. The death of a child is always an unimaginable tragedy, an “out-of-order” death. Such an unfathomable loss rocks our world. I’m deeply sad to tell you that our beloved InsightLA teacher Elizabeth Rice and her husband David Wood lost their eldest son Galen Ricewood last weekend. Galen was 29. He is standing next to Elizabeth in the photo.
Death catapults us into the unknown. Like the refugees, we lose our connection to our known world where life unfolds in familiar ways, where children survive parents, not the other way around. Death and loss know no zip code, nationality, or identity. Community is the only lifeline when we’re grieving, hungry, sick, homeless. I saw firsthand the importance of community in the Darfuri refugee camp in Africa. In the midst of their heartbreak, Elizabeth and David are grateful for their strong marriage and family, and thankful for the friendship and support of our community.
Refuge in community is one of the three central pillars of our practice. We learn how to go for refuge in loving awareness, how to show up for each other, and how to recover the infinite richness of open-hearted, simple BEING that is our birthright. To honor Galen, his parents kindly request that you please send a donation to InsightLA in his memory, in lieu of flowers.