bombs and birthdays and ashes

What on earth do bombs and birthdays and ashes have in common? Well, while my Dad was celebrating his birthday back in 1945 as a soldier in the New Zealand armed forces, the city of Hiroshima was being obliterated. I always wondered what it would be like to have one’s birthday coincide with a horrific historical event such as that, but when I’d ask him about it he would simply reply, “It was the war, dear,” shake his head, and shut down.

Yesterday it came around again: the sixth of August. Hiroshima Day and the anniversary of Dad’s birth back in 1913. And two years exactly since Mum and I, with a few dear friends, walked out onto the Urangan Pier and scattered Dad’s ashes onto the turning tide.


Urangan Pier, Hervey Bay, Queensland


Dad was a dyed-in-the-wool Kiwi. He always wanted to return to homeland Aotearoa and we were on the verge of making his wish come true when he took off. It wasn’t a sudden death. He was, after all, 95 years old.

We deliberated about how best to get his ashes back across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. A sailor friend came up with the suggestion that we scatter them onto the turning high tide from the Urangan Pier. This being Queensland, Australia, the next landfall would be New Zealand’s West Coast, his favorite haunt. It was a quiet happy ceremony, topped off with a picnic lunch on the beach.

This year, however, I was alone. No little Mother with her twinkling blue eyes. Her absence still takes constant adjusting to, even though more than a year has passed since she left.

It was a divine day, typical of winter in this part of the world. I bought a parcel of fish and chips – Dad’s fave tucker – and sat on the beach right about where this photo was taken. The chips didn’t need salt. Tears were streaming. And they were both sweet and salty. Fragments of this dream decade arose and floated around in mind, bits of deliciousness, bits of frustratedness and weariness and huge upswellings of love. It was all there, and it was all welcomed and named, and allowed to stream out with the tide.

(And this is what I want to share because I think it is so important, and because it took me so long to understand and accept, and because ignorance of it caused so much suffering: not one feeling or emotion or thought can be separated out from the aware-ing in which it arises. The full embrace of one’s experience is the full embrace of the Lover. It is the intimacy we seek. It melts the mind into the heart.)

Punakaiki, West Coast, Aotearoa New Zealand


A few months ago I stood there, on the rocks at Punakaiki on the West Coast of the South Island, and fancied I could hear Dad’s unmistakable cheery whistling rising up from the swirling kelp forests.

– miriam louisa


Top image: Urangan Pier –  Neil Paskin © 2007
Punakaiki image – Open Source

9 thoughts on “bombs and birthdays and ashes

  1. Flowers and Weddings and Ashes
    Dear Miriam Louisa,
    This beautiful post struck to the core. Thank you.
    In isolation there are flowers to arrange a wedding to celebrate and ashes to bury. Facing these emotions may I deeply experience these words… “not one feeling or emotion or thought can be separated out from the aware-ing in which it arises. The full embrace of one’s experience is the full embrace of the Lover. It is the intimacy we seek.”… and melt this mind in to the Heart.

  2. Dear Miriam Louisa,
    I don’t know. Not all of what was stated has ‘happened’ except that I am beginning to see that there is nothing to worry about – despite my obstinate and valiant efforts to worry and be concerned. I was visited the other morning by the hair dryer Guru. Maybe it was from all the heat on my head or that I was flopped over upside down – but I just looked instead of ‘doing something’. There were all these upsetting thoughts – monster thoughts, really – and somehow they turned into bliss and joy.
    There’s more of a spacious gestalt and a hint of your ‘no bones in the bodysuit’ type of feeling. And Love. And (the always) happy recognition of the Source – the best food for trust.

  3. Hello dear Leslie –

    Isn’t it incredible how monster thoughts can morph into bliss and joy in an instant? And we believe them to be so solid, separate, real!

    Lover is on your case by the sound of things 🙂

    Lightly –

    ml xxxx

  4. Dear Miriam Louisa,
    Lover has never, not even for an instant, left the ‘case’…that has never been the issue.
    It is an ongoing gross misunderstanding and misinterpretation of appearances
    coupled with a compromise of my original approach and path.
    My deepest gratitude to the All of You who lend me your Heart and Hand to help correct this seeing.

    • How beautifully expressed Leslie – indeed, how could Lover ever leave the case! However, as you say, it’s so easy to be distracted by misinterpretation and misunderstanding and miss that Presence (aka Lover) that is never absent, but only appears so. And the more the distraction fades, the more it seems that Presence comes forth with open arms …

      I love your clarity and your sincerity.

      With love – ml

  5. Thank you ML…That was a sweet video posted on ‘How to be Alone’. Distraction arose, however, after viewing it. The thought came up…what if the alone-ness is one that is forced? — as in a jail — and one is actually innocent?

  6. Dear Leslie – what a lovely conversation we’re having here!

    Since (I presume) your question is speculative . . . what if “the thought” was only another thought arising in the spacious Aware-ing that constantly bubbles with thought-arisings? What if the concepts of forcing and innocence – and even alone-ness – were natural arisings inseparable from the dance of Being Itself? What if the thought had absolutely no effect on that spacious Aware-ing?

    Although I ask “what if” in the speculative sense, these questions can be checked out without resorting to speculation.

    I avoid speculation because it’s endless. I’m only interested in what can be proven for oneself very simply and straightforwardly. I haven’t been imprisoned, but I do know what it’s like to be incapacitated and helpless. So I can only say that whether in prison or not one always has the capacity to be fully awake, because awakeness is one’s birthright and one’s Beingness. Justice and injustice will always be part of the human story. That doesn’t mean that appropriate actions won’t be taken to address an unjust situation. I sign the petitions, I join the marches. But I no longer fall for the fantasy that there is anything other than Lover-at-large.

    Gratitude to you for the chance to express these things!

    ~ miriam louisa

  7. Dear Miriam Louisa,
    Thank you for that beautiful and clear answer. “But I no longer fall for the fantasy that there is anything other than Lover-at-large.” No question that I still take thought — particular certain appearances — to be real. I don’t know how to see through those.

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