By Theresa Puskar
R.I.P Walter Perschke – May 20th, 2016
Life is a dance. The question remains, “Are you willing to get on the dance floor and move to the music of the divine, or will you choose to sit passively at the sidelines, and watch others as they allow the magic of the music to take the lead?”
May has been quite a month. As I continue my efforts to have faith and get out of my own way in my life, I am amazed at all that has transpired. I have experienced great joy and grief, and unleashed unabashed freedom, and subsequent restraint. I have ridden a rollercoaster of emotions, each of which played a part in my soul’s dance with life and death.
Many of you have probably heard that, after a valiant attempt to rid his body of cancer, on May 20th Walter Perschke, the publisher of Conscious Community magazine, passed away. He was anxious about leaving, as he really wanted to create a grand legacy before his death. He was bound and determined. In fact, right up until the moment of his death, I believe he thought he could beat the cancer. To fulfill his legacy, Walter planned on expanding The Spiritual Learning Center, and wanted to extend the magazine towards national readership. While these desires were not manifested during his lifetime, I know that Walter most definitely DID leave a legacy.
Whether analyzing a dream, struggling through an emotional challenge, or curious about one of Christ’s quotes in the Bible, I’d ask myself, “What would Walter say?”
At the beginning of the month, Kasia Szumal (the General/Circulation Manager of Conscious Community magazine) and I went to a belly-dancing class. This joyful experience was another step towards my self-supportive commitment to incorporating more creative outlets into my life. While we shimmied around the room, I was reminded of Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils, and a show that I once considered writing about Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary. I’ve always been perplexed and curious about the juxtapositioning of the two women closest to Jesus Christ; one who was believed to have been His virgin mother, and the other a prostitute and social outcast. As I mused on this anomaly while writing this article, I thought to myself, “Hmm, I wonder what Walter’s insights would be on this?” He was fascinated with the Bible, along with the life and times of Jesus Christ. He had done an incredible amount of research on this subject, and had some very poignant insights on the matter. I had no doubt that he could have taught me a great deal about this fascinating pair of women, and I wish I had a chance to learn more from him.
A couple of nights prior to his death, I had a very powerful dream. It was so vivid that I could relate everything I experienced with a great deal of detail and precision. It was one of those dreams that was so clear that it felt particularly important. Again, I thought to myself, “Now, if I shared it with Walter, I know he could help me interpret it, and make sense of it all!” But alas, I was left to muse on its meanings alone.
An opportunity to say “goodbye” to a dying friend is a rare gift to be appreciated and cherished.
A couple of days after Walter’s death, some of the key players in his Conscious Community network met to discuss his desires in relation to the future of his spiritual enterprises. As we met, it struck me that we will no longer have our monthly Saturday morning meetings with Walter. “If only I had known that our May meeting would be our last with him – I might have…” In my heart of hearts, I knew that I would have done nothing differently. I might have held the hug a couple of seconds longer, yet that would have been the extent of it.
Among others, the team (Kasia, Jim, Melissa, Anne, and I) all were blessed with an opportunity to say “goodbye” to Walter during his final days. It was a great gift to be able to speak my final words of farewell to him. You see, like me, Walter was not always an easy person to relate to. We are both very opinionated, strong-willed, and at times, we are quite edgy. Because of this, many times we butted heads, yet each time we did, I know we both shared a mutual respect for one another. No one could accuse Walter or me of being too quiet, or intimidated. I frankly spoke my truth to him, and did so without hesitation. Sometimes he didn’t like to hear what I told him, yet I felt he listened. While many people might have rejected me, he did not. In fact, he was one of the few individuals in my life that gave me the freedom and safety to express myself without criticism or judgment. For this, I was and am extremely grateful.
Facing our fears, and feeling our pain – herein lies the path of the hero.
During one of my visits with Walter in his final days, I did a couple of emotional processes with him. As is the case with a disease like cancer, with the pain and imminent death, feelings of anxiety and fear are likely to come up. Throughout my years of experience in the self-help movement, and most recently with my studies at Oneness University, I learned that we need to fully feel into our deepest pain, fear, anguish, and guilt in order to heal it. So I asked Walter to allow his fears to speak to him. After a short time, I then took him through a guided meditation where he honored himself for all of the good he has brought into the world. I encouraged him to breathe in, and welcome all of the goodness and light that his readers, seminar attendees, and colleagues received from him throughout the years.
As we did this exercise, I thought to myself, “At what point in our existence do we feel like we are enough? Did Walter feel like he had done enough? Do I feel like I am enough, just as I am, in all my imperfection?” You too might ask yourself, “What does being ‘enough’ feel like? Will I ever know, or will I die still wondering?” We all do a dance with our own emotions. We sometimes feel worthy and accept ourselves, while at other times, we can be overwhelmed with feelings of self-criticism and even self-loathing. I find myself challenged, in that, while I know in my head that my divine does not judge me as I so harshly judge myself, somewhere within me there is a disconnect. In some way, I must not truly believe this, for, if I did, I would not be so unyielding with myself.
If we touch others and shift their lives, even in the slightest of ways, we should never doubt that when we pass, we leave a legacy.
We all want to leave this earth having made a difference. We dream of leaving our mark in a great way, yet who is to say what that looks like? How is our legacy measured? Should it be measured at all? The way in which one affects one individual may have as much or more impact than the effect that a great master has had who has touched millions. How do we know how the energy that we put out into the world has shifted it? If one butterfly can affect the winds, and eventually be the catalyst for a major hurricane, how do we know what affect we might have on the life of one, who could eventually touch many?
May you rest in peace, Walter, knowing that you did, indeed, leave a legacy. To master the art of dance, one has to have discipline, flexibility, endurance, and most of all, passion. I don’t know if you liked to dance, yet I know you had all of the traits of un danseur extraordinaire! Adieu, my friend, adieu.
A memorial service for Walter will be held at Unity Church in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome Ave, Chicago, Il 60660, on Sunday, June 26th at 6:00 p.m. All are welcome.
Theresa Puskar, our All About Town contributor, is a writer, trainer, speaker, and inspirational audiobook producer. She recently authored The Terri Series – seven books that focus on bullying, honoring diversity, celebrating creativity, non-judgment of emotions, finding alternatives to technology-based entertainment, discovering a non-judgmental God, and overcoming fears. She has also recorded a powerful experiential audio program, How to De-Clutter Your Mind and live a Heart-Centered Life. To place an order or learn more, log onto her website at theresapuskar.com.