kirtan with joan – NOT CANCELLED

Today when I got in the car, out of the blue, a voice memo of a kirtan from October 2015, recorded five months before Joan’s death, started playing. I don’t know how or why, but there it was coming through my car speakers.

Although she hadn’t been able to teach formally for almost a year, due to her weakened physical condition, Joan jumped at whatever opportunities presented to share the teachings. Whether it was a visiting nurse or the technician installing a bar on the bathtub, no one escaped without a little satsang. But when a student stopped by while friends were visiting, that was cause for celebration and our daily chanting practice transformed into kirtan! Despite her advanced lung cancer, which often made breathing arduous, Joan managed to belt out chants with gusto! 

On the recording, in addition to the chants, you will hear traffic noises and sirens outside of our Montréal home, chit-chat, papers shuffling, Joan mentioning her nausea and her pain, a pill alarm and a consultation of the medication spreadsheet. It was time for Advil. I deliberately chose not to edit out these “interruptions” to the chanting in an attempt to convey the seamlessness of crisis and ordinariness. Every day was devoted to the “daily business,” as Joan called it, whether it entailed protecting a bedsore or translating a Sanskrit text. Life carried on. Life still carries on. It takes different forms – quarantines and kirtans, food foraging and phone comforting, panic and practice – it’s all part of this extraordinary magic show of embodied existence! As you’ll hear Joan say,

“Everything is unfolding perfectly…”

The four-year anniversary of Joan’s transition is Saturday. For those of us who loved her dearly, that little hole left in the heart by her passing will perhaps never be completely filled.

May chanting along with us bring some cheer to your day.


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