“I've rarely experienced a 'training' program that so effectively combines rigorous methodology with generous heart. I now have a living compendium of precise, relevant practices.”
“Working with Joanne and Laura has been transformational at many levels of my life. Through their Integral Coaching® training, I have come to understand what “being human” means.”
“Integral Coaching Canada provides what we believe is the most complete and comprehensive coaching program available. ”
Transitus - August 12
Laura died one year ago on August 12th at 8:20pm EDT. I was in her bed, speaking to her as her breath slowed, then slowed again, then slowed, and then slowed again. Softer and softer until I knew it was her last exhale. It has been a roller coaster of blurred time for me since then. Words don’t begin to describe the many ways that grief manifests in a human. But that is a different write, for a different time.
August 12th is a day to remember Laura. This day marked the arc of Laura’s life coming to its final point. A single moment. A last exhale. We will all get there. Perhaps some of you have had a loved one die in the last year. As a matter of fact, I know that this has happened. And how could it not with thousands of us out there on the planet? Births too. New mothers, grandmothers, fathers, uncles, sisters, aunts. All of us in transition in one way or another. This moment marks Laura’s transition - we honour, we celebrate, we mourn, we witness, we sit or stand together in remembrance.
One of our graduates, Nev Kelly, was speaking with Susan Loree about transitus (Latin for passing) celebrations that mark the death of a Founder of a community. Nev said, “Franciscans have a special celebration each year to honour the passing of their Founder. It is an embodied spiritual experience. The transitus represents the passing of this life, through death to ever-lasting life. This is the embodied experience of spirituality. A community celebrating St Francis would include a liturgy, songs, prayers, poems, and wisdom shared. These ‘stories’ capture the essence of the person and continue to construct ‘who we are.’”
On this day - August 12 - we mark Laura’s transitus. As a community of coaches, we have the opportunity to mark her transitus as a Founder of this school, this coaching method, this way of teaching, this way of practicing, this way of being in the world. We have the chance today to mark Laura’s passing. I want you to know it was a good death. It was a deeply spiritual, gentle, and loving death.
Laura and I have been practicing in the Soto Zen lineage for decades. It is a practice that calls for being awake, as much as it is possible. To be with life arising. To die is to be with a wider consciousness. Fully. To be with the consciousness of those who have gone before and those who will come behind. To be with…
You belong to a lineage too. A lineage of coaches. You belong to us. We belong to you. And to each other. Lineage. What is that? Have you ever really thought about it? The Inukshuk is a deeply meaningful artifact to mark a Master graduate in our school. It is representative of something built for those who follow and by those who have walked the path ahead. We have responsibility to those who follow, to what we leave in our trail. And we can rest in the open arms of those who have come before each of us. They have left markers. With clear sight, we can pick out that Inukshuk on the horizon, guiding us, letting us know that you can trust this path. Nourishment awaits. It is just up ahead. Can you see?
You belong to a lineage of time with:
Those who have travelled with you, walking by your side.
Those who are starting out on this trail you know so well, coming up from behind.
Those who are ahead, breaking new ground, having travelled paths yet to be known by you.
Laura would ask, “What nourishment are you leaving for the others who are coming? Always both. Looking forward and resting in the quiet guidance that awaits our listening. And ever aware of who is coming from behind needing assistance. This enables us to be fully present here, now. Here. Now.”
When you feel alone, can you feel that you still belong to those you travelled with during your ICC courses? Think of a classmate you loved. Think of your study group. Your teacher. A mentor. Today, if you can, reach out to someone with whom you travelled, or someone who shared their intimate development with you. Reach out to them. Send them a note or email. “How are you doing these days (these years)?” I bet it will be the best thing in their Inbox today.
When you feel alone, can you feel the students who are just starting their journey of coach training in our school? The ones coming up from behind. Maybe today, leave a Facebook post on our ICC page for the students who are just starting this journey. Any words of advice for them? Four ACM classes of brand-new students started this past Spring / Summer. Maybe they need a message from one of you who has already travelled on to PCM or MCM. Maybe your words would help. You. Someone who is ahead on this path. Can you reach out to those who you don’t know, to those who are starting their travel on this same path, on their unique journey?
When you feel alone, can you feel those ahead of you on this path? Can you rest in their love and joy and sorrow? Can you feel Laura, a Founder of this school, who is ever present for many of us? Sit quietly and listen to her. Or watch one of her videos on our website. Be reminded of her voice, her presence, her deep commitment to alleviating suffering. She is a few steps ahead of all of us on this journey.
I want to share some details of Laura’s transitus with you for your own direct experience of this intimate time. Laura died listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s music. His latest CD, Underwater, arriving from Daniel Lesage (MCM grad and music lover) only eight days before she died. The last thing she heard was Einaudi’s music and my voice. The last things she tasted were chocolate mint ice cream and a cinnamon candy that arrived just in time. The last thing she saw was my face as she opened her eyes a few hours before she died, emerging from her sleepy state, and stared deeply into my eyes for twenty minutes. Candles were lit in her room. Her hospital bed - in her studio overlooking the Big Rideau Lake – was puffy with pillows and a duvet and stuffed animals and a cushion with a picture on it of Carrie Mathison from the Homeland TV series. Carrie became Laura’s hero in her last weeks as the cancer traversed her brain. Laura’s monk paintings were hanging on the wall behind her bed. Her meditation bowl on the table with framed pictures of her from all the decades of her life. The last thing she smelled was her favourite incense burning – Gozan, Five Hills, from Kyoto, Japan. In her final minutes, the last thing she felt was me holding her hands, my body curled up next to hers. And the very last words she heard were from my mouth whispering to her to go, to dance, to fly, to be unencumbered by a body, to do tai chi in the Cosmos. I told her that I would be okay and that she had loved me so well and that I would love her forever. A great blue heron took off from the shoreline as Laura breathed her last breath at 8:20pm. The sun set. My three sisters and I gathered around her bed in the candlelight. We cried. We told stories. We stroked her skin. We sat vigil with her body and energetic self as it exited slowly. I slept on the futon next to her bed. I woke up with the sunrise and whispered good morning to her peaceful face. She seemed to be smiling.
Laura’s transitus is lovingly remembered while we still grieve the loss of her human form, her laughter, her wisdom, her soft ways of being, her arms around me. The missing is so deep, but her wisdom and Holy Love remains. The ‘Ninja Nine’ continuing in her support of all of us. I know for sure that it will never end. Let it hold you. Even if you have never met her. Every inch of this school, every tiny bit of every slide deck, model, lens, teaching method, design, and piece of curriculum contains Laura’s wisdom. Look to some of it today. Take a few moments, please. In this lineage, while you may feel alone, you are never alone. I know this now. In a new way. In my bones.
Laura sent me an email in the middle of the night a few weeks before she died. It said, “I think I’m supposed to write something, so I’ll write something. Here it is. If you think what is of most importance is enlightenment, don’t bother. Once you’ve found it, it’s over.”
Take a moment today. Mark this transitus of Laura Jane Divine, Founder of Integral Coaching Canada. Connect with someone in your lineage. Up ahead of you, or behind you a few steps, or someone on the path with you. Do it now before this moment is over.
© Joanne Hunt