Several years ago, I was watching a documentary on Netflx called Ram Dass: Fierce Grace. Ram Dass is an American who had a spiritual awakening after a trip to India in the 60s. He has spent the past four decades writing and speaking about spirituality and consciousness throughout the world.
Ram Dass ("servent of God" in Hindi) is widely known for his work with the dying and families of those who have passed. In the film, he told a story about a couple who lost their teenage daughter Rachel in a violent murder. Their pain unbearable, they sent a letter to Ram Dass, hoping that he could share some wisdom that would help them make sense out of such tragedy.
Ram Dass read the letter he sent to the parents. It is both poetic and profound, and is something I have re-read many times over the years. Under the circumstances, I thought it would be fitting to share this letter with you today.
With much love and peace
Dear Steve and Anita,
Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.
I can't assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel's legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.
Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.
In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.
Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts – if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space. In that deep love, include me.