Rosanne Cash Surrenders to Grief
--and Love

In an exclusive video meditation, plus an interview and music, the singer-songwriter shares her journey through grief and faith.

Continued from page 2

What kind of music do you find the most spiritual? 

Bruce Springsteen can be deeply spiritual to me. Lou Reed's record "Magic and Loss" is profoundly spiritual. Annie Lennox's song "Why" is profoundly spiritual to me. It doesn't have to have context for me to find it spiritual, it doesn't have to be framed and labeled as being of God or of the spirit for me to find it spiritual. That word "spiritual" just means that it resonates with the spirit. And that could be anything—that could be art, music, it could be my 7-year-old son's paintings of Bionicles, because it comes straight from his little soul, and he loves it. It's all communion with God, isn't it?

 

How do you describe your parents' religion and spirituality?  What legacies did they leave you?

 

Her parents' spiritual legacies
I tend to see some of it in terms of metaphor. My mother was a strict Catholic, and she was absolutely devoted to her faith as a Catholic. And although I don't have much respect for the Catholic church, I have tremendous respect for my mother. When I was in Paris a couple of months ago, I went to the Catholic church in Paris just to honor her, to connect with her. But the way I see it is that my mother gave me my sense of structure. The Catholic church is very structured, it's very rule-bound. It has particular formulas, and things that you have to do. So just the sense of that structure, I got. I didn't take the content of it, but the structure in itself was incredibly useful to me, and I've kept that.

 

My father, on the other hand, was a Baptist--although I always said he was a mystic. His mysticism was framed by Southern Protestant religion, but he was an anomaly because he was very respectful of anyone's spiritual path, and very open to mystical experiences and to a sense of the mystic in religion. He was not earthbound by his religion. So I got that too, and for better or for worse, it led me to Buddhism. 

 

Was he supportive of your Buddhist practice?

 

Not really. That was hard for him. In fact, one day, he said, "Please don't become a Buddhist." But I don't think he had a real understanding of it. I wouldn't call myself a Buddhist anyway. I still go to Episcopal church a lot of times. I wouldn't define my religious sense. 

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What do you think happens to us after we die?

 

The afterlife
I don't know. I've gone over a lot of different scenarios of what might happen after we die. Anything from, it's just lights-out, you're in the ground, it's over, no sense of consciousness whatsoever, to the opposite extreme, that we're in the dream world, and they're the ones who are awake. Lately I tend more towards that. I think that the physical plane is so dense that we can't perceive them—that we're just dense, our senses are too dense to perceive them, but that they exist in a higher vibration of some kind, where they don't need the body or the senses anymore, and there's love, and there's still learning, and growth of some kind. I hope that's true. I've had some experience that makes me think that they're around.

 

Before, you said that the relationship with your parents continues. Does that depend on the answer to the question, "Where are they now?"

 

No. In fact, even if I believed it was lights-out and it was just over, I would still think the relationship continued, because I've internalized them. When I was making Thanksgiving dinner, I was all about my mom. I was doing things like my mom would have done. I just felt her presence, I got out her cookbook, she was there. A couple of years ago, I went to hear Al Gore speak, I got in the taxi, and my dad's cologne was in the taxi. I had that scent in my nose through the whole speech, after the speech, so sometimes I do think that they are around. But like I said, even if there wasn't any feeling of that, the relationship would still continue. 

In your liner notes, you write, "there's no faith without doubt."  Do you also feel that there's no love, peace, any other good things, without doubt?  That we can't fully experience anything good in life without being aware of the alternative?

 

I think that is true. You can experience them, but they have a more narrow margin, and they're shallower until you experience the reverse. I just know that, in my own experience, my love was deepened after experiencing loss. And that my faith was strengthened after experiencing tremendous doubt, doubt to the point of a sense of annihilation. And that my patience was strengthened after going through these unsettling things where you can't bear one more second. I don't know if that's true for everyone. Maybe there are some people who are full of love, they don't need to know about doubt or death or loss or anger. I've never met anyone like that.

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