Buddhist Poetry: Last Twilight Before the Shadow of Time (Judy Walker – Psalm 23:4)

Buddhist Poetry: Last Twilight Before the Shadow of Time (Judy Walker – Psalm 23:4)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The shadow of life and the memories left behind are illuminated by two Buddhist monks who emanate from Japan. This concerns the poems they wrote.

The Buddhist monks Henjō (816-890) and Sōgi (1421-1502) provide a sense of continuity – despite the passage of time. Accordingly, the words of Henjō and Sōgi transcend time.

In the poem by Sōgi below, the pain of losing a loved one is summed up beautifully.

Sōgi wrote:

We may realize
that people are merely dreams:
the house abandoned,
its wild garden becomes home
to a swarm of butterflies.

It doesn’t matter if the home is abandoned or in full use (partner, sister, brother, other family members, or best friend) because a certain emptiness is felt after the death of a loved one.

Henjō also exquisitely wrote:

On his way to leave the world, a man
Comes to rest
Beneath the trees
But he finds no shade
For every Autumn leaf has fallen.

Hope and continuity suddenly become shattered for the people left behind. Naturally, for the individual facing death, many things enter the mind. It could be fear, hope (Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and other faiths), peace (released from pain), sadness, regrets, contentment, and countless other emotions.

After the death of my mother (Judy Doggett Walker – 1934-2019), both poems by these Buddhist monks hit my emotions. This also applies to her last moments on this earth. Therefore, her home feels abandoned and soulless after her death despite the house being maintained.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying says, “Death is a mirror in which the entire meaning of life is reflected.”

My mother was a Christian throughout her life. Through good times and bad times, joy or tragedy, no pain or severe pain – her Christian faith was her bedrock.

Psalm 23:4 (The Old Testament) says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The words in these two poems by the Buddhist monks Henjō and Sōgi are timeless. Also, they apply to all people irrespective of faith or no faith.

Psalm 23:4 is also exquisitely written. Hence, the words provide strength, hope, and victory in “the shadow of death.” Therefore, for my mother, Psalm 23:4 gave her strength to the end.

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/bleak-midwinter-and-the-buddhist-tree-of-life-sawako-utsumi.html Bleak Midwinter and the Buddhist Tree of Life

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/japanese-buddhist-holy-men-in-the-deep-winter-sawako-utsumi.html Buddhist Holy Men in Deep Winter

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-desolate-japanese-buddhist-path-sawako-utsumi.html The Desolate Buddhist Path

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/brailsford-church-in-splendid-nature-sawako-utsumi.html Brailsford Church in Nature

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sawako-utsumi.html – Sawako Utsumi and where to buy her art, postcards, bags, and other products.

Photo: Judy Doggett Walker and her son Lee Jay Walker

http://www.wakapoetry.net/kks-v-292/ – Waka Poetry website

http://davidbowles.us/poetry/translations/dream-people-by-monk-sogi/ – Translated by David Bowles

Images of Judy Doggett Walker and her son Lee Jay

Rest In Peace – Judy Doggett Walker (November 29, 1934 – April 10, 2019)

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