This past spring and summer, Phil was my Living/Dying Project client. Phil was 48 years old and lived a mile up the hill from me with his wife Joelle and their son Philip, who had his third birthday during our time together. When I met Phil his oncologist had just told him that the cancer which had begun in has tonsils had spread to such an extent into his head and neck that there was no longer any hope for him to survive much longer.
Usually when I “work” with someone who has a critical illness, this client has definite spiritual issues and questions or definite human emotional issues or, more than likely, both. My job is to see the relative, human dimension and the absolute, spiritual dimension at the same time. It’s not so hard to do one or the other – to be lost in the human drama of the person who might be dying soon while forgetting the spiritual context, forgetting what is real, or, on the other hand, to rest in the vastness of Living Spirit, realizing the perfection of it all, while not being there for the person in that bed who is dying. The challenge is to balance the two, being with the finite humanness and the infinite perfection.
With Phil, this was an easy task. Phil lived in this balance. He had done his spiritual work – I could find no fear in him – but he was also a man, especially a father, and was deeply saddened by the prospect of his young son not having a dad.
By the time Phil died, more than a year had gone by since he had been able to eat or drink or lie down. During the four months that I knew Phil, he lived and died with grace and dignity. When we first met we meditated and explored spiritual things, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly important that was new to him. So then we started to talk about our beloved Giants. Finally we just sat with nothing to say. No need to be more spiritual or more human – relative and absolute becoming one..
— Dale Borglum, 2004