Maria Kempis

MariaIt’s just come to my attention that today would have been Maria Kempis’ 63rd birthday. Maria was the mother of one of my dearest friends, Keith. She was an extraordinary woman who blessed my life with such a profound grace that it continues to unravel in me despite her having left this life almost seven years ago. To me, Maria was the epitome of peace, beauty, joy, generosity, strength and love – it was impossible to be in her presence and not feel imbued by these things. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer which she fought for over 10 years to see her boys become men and to affect real change in the world. Despite the agony of her final stages, she travelled to Thailand with Keith to bequeath a living will to people effected by the Tsunami, as she had many times before.

Although Maria’s legacy lives on in the lives of people who will never know her, it’s those of us who did that are truly blessed. It’s difficult to describe the way in which she continues to be a force in my life, but she does. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that her passing has changed the way I see death. I’m not a religious person but I see Maria’s spirit manifest in those around her, especially in her sons who continue to selflessly dedicate their time and resources to doing good work in the world. And at times I feel her spirit move in me too. In my darkest days, I called on the memory of Maria to guide me with the grace, dignity, strength and love that she always met her greatest challenges with. I would cling to the example she led by and I would feel the warmth of the light she lit in me and know I could go on… if not quite as elegantly as she did.

On the day of her funeral, memorial cards were distributed with a poem. At the time, I read it and treasured it but to be honest, it didn’t really resonate with me. None the less, I kept it close and eventually packed it away for safekeeping between moves. Just recently, I thought of that poem again. I couldn’t remember the words but I had an overwhelming intuition that it was time for me to read it again. I couldn’t find my copy so asked Keith if he had one spare. He did. I reread it and wept with its potency and at Maria’s light still emanating so strongly in my life.

In celebration of the day she was born, I’d like to share that poem:

Take this truth or not,
the journey will happen anyway,
and you will travel.
This is not a choice.

The only choice
is how you travel.
Consciousness is everything.

Losing soul consciousness,
the traveller carries
the thousand and one fears
with all their names.
These are all extra weight,
unnecessary baggage.
The road will seem longer,
the journey more difficult.

Remember who you are
and travel light.

– Barbara Bossert


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