When I think of gentleness, I think of ease of movement, thought and action. I think of a ballet dancer as she moves across the floor. I know it takes great effort, but there is also a fluidity of movement and purpose. Perhaps practiced over and over again, I too can move with gentleness through life. Gentleness also makes me think of a summer breeze when the trees sway and you can smell the ground and the flowers. To me that is also gentleness. In this way, the action is a natural action, and one of singular beauty, but tender all the same. A summer breeze denotes a sense of simplicity and relaxation to me, a sense that the harshness of winter has passed and we are in the season of growth and green light. Finally when I think of gentleness, I think of love between friends especially when hardship is upon one or both. The friends join together to meet the hardship, and by doing so, make the hardship easier to manage. These are the things I want more in all aspects of my life. If I want them in life, I also want them in death.
When I think about my wishes at death, all I want is gentleness. I want my body washed, as it was when I was a babe and have essential oils applied to my skin. I want to be swaddled in a shroud for my burial. I want people to join together and tell stories, laugh, and cry. I want my body to return to the earth from whence it came, dissolving back into the earth, and nourishing what it can. I do not want the harshness offered by the death care industry. Gentleness is what green burial is all about – gentleness with the body, the family and the earth. I think sometimes we get caught by the machine of the death care industry and forget that our death is our death, and the last word we want to leave might just be a simple gentle message of love. Let us walk toward gentleness even in death, reclaiming the ways of our ancestors, and placing our choices back in our own hands where they belong. Let us be gentle with each other and nature in death, as we desire to be in life.