Sunday, April 29, 2012

you are here

in the quiet promise of dawn
  in the moment when birds begin their songs
in the agony of painful memories
  in the struggle for a new tomorrow
in the reality of empty, hungry arms
    in the blessed ability to remember a brilliant smile

when the new depths are cruelly carved
  and soul space is created to hold the growing sadness
when spontaneous smiles erupt in new born eyes
  washing over my raw places
when new ways of giving myself away are suddenly offered
  and wholeness seems like more than just a dream

you are here
  you are here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

this jerky journey

“Slowness remembers, hurry forgets.
Softness remembers, hardness forgets.
Surrender remembers, fear forgets.
It is beautifully difficult to remember who we are.
But we help each other every time we fill the cup of truth and hold each other up after drinking from it.”    (Mark Nepo)

In the initial days of deep loss we lose ourselves.  All we can do is feel the sudden brokenness of our world and ourselves.  Who we have always been falls at our feet in a million pieces.  And all we can do is “turn ourselves into a function” (as Mark Nepo writes)  simply going through the motions of being alive. 

Then, at some point . . . and that point is different for each of us . . .  we wake up.  We notice that we have forgotten who we are in the midst of this shattering change and begin the jerky journey back and forward, back and forward. . . . toward some re-membered version of who we were. . . . into who we are.  It is “beautifully difficult” because it is our real work.  And we can help each other when we do not turn away.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

hiking and healing

Some of my favorite writers like Paula D'Arcy, Richard Rohr , Mark Nepo and Jack Kornfield  all write about living from the heart. They talk about allowing our faith and our experiences to change us into people who can see the world differently.  They insist on the power of perspective and on marrying our understanding of spiritual truth with our everyday lives.  They also say . . .
"we dare not get rid of our pain until we have learned what it has to teach us."   

These two ideas  - learning to see differently and learning what pain has to teach us  -came together for me recently when I remembered an unforgettable hike in North Carolina.  Hiking can be a unique and powerfully physical experience of arriving at a place where we can see ourselves and our lives from a different perspective.

I was attending a retreat at Kanuga, a beautiful place in the mountains of North Carolina. During some free time, I decided to explore the hills around the center.  I was alone and unfamiliar with the trails, so I went to the lodge and ask the clerk if they had a map.  She gave me two sets of instructions - both written and drawn - so I felt prepared and off I went .  
I began to climb my way up to a vista point, carefully watching each turn and twist in the trail, checking the map often to be sure I was going the right way.  Then about 1/3 of the way up, I stopped and realized that I was missing the beauty of these beautiful woods because my head was always down reading the map.  So, I carefully folded it and put it in my pocket thinking – heck, as long as I go up I can’t get too lost. 
When I reached the top, there was a view that literally took my breath.  It was 360 degrees of gorgeous and I was speechless.  While I was up there, it began to rain , so I just sat down and began to sing.  The birds joined in and it was a magnificent moment – an out-of-this-world-moment when I felt connected to all that was around me.  I thought of how tied we can get to a guidebook . . . intent on making sure we "do this right" .  And yet, when we do that, we miss the scenery and, perhaps, the importance of the journey altogether. "Doing it right" is an effort to shape our experience into something we think it "should" be, rather than allowing it to be what it is.  Our fear of getting lost can rob us of the wisdom within the experience.  

But there is more to the hiking experience than the destination.  Hiking can be a real struggle when the terrain is rough. It requires a willingness to put forth the effort, to keep going when we feel tired and sore, to continue putting one foot in front of the other ,trusting this effort is worth something. We must decide when to stop and rest, so we don't completely exhaust ourselves and what to carry with us, remembering that if we carry too much it will only get heavy and cumbersome.  We sometimes need tireless companions who are willing to accompany us, encourage us when we tire and remind us of why we need to keep going.   

In April of 2007 our son died.  He was 35 years old,  a beautiful person in and out . . .our first born,  The pain of that grief has been unlike anything I could have ever imagined.  It has been in many ways like hiking . . . in the physical demand of the journey, the need for directions and the trust that my trudging would take me to a new kind of peace.   

I wonder . . . what metaphors come to mind for you? 
What helps you to see differently ? 
What helps you to remember that Love is constantly shaping you, healing you, enfolding you and making you wise?   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

reverent and real

when the day is new
washed in possibility
colored by a golden sky

when birds awake to sing
doing what birds do

when the quiet wraps around me
in peaceful softness

my heart opens
 beauty and  sadness
 side by side
spilling my morning tears


the questions grief creates

I had driven this way before when our son, Matt, was alive.

He had brought me here because he thought it was beautiful country and hoped to make it his new home.  He so tired of living in the city and loved the hills surrounded by acres of natural beauty.  So as I drove through these country roads, my mind and heart were full of Matt’s dreams.

I could see his excited face and remember sharing the possibilities that his new life chapter held.  Along with those memories then came the familiar dreaded spin into the “what if” spiral that I knew so well.  Why did this happen to him . . . to us?  Why this unbearable loss?  What if he had been able to get here and find a house?  Would that have made the difference? 
Would his hope have rekindled?  Would he have felt his lifeblood come surging back like it was then?  What if? What if? What if?

I hated this cycle and had fallen into it countless times.  It made me tired, sick with longing, and tangled again in these persistent questions with no answers. 

Then, without knowing why, a different question came to me.  Why can’t I just look at this scenery and love it because Matt loved it?   I can do that with other things.  Why not this?  Why can’t I let it make me happy to be in a place that made him happy?”  And no sooner had I imagined having this new perspective . . . than it happened.  I felt immediately like I could make that shift.  And I did. 

A wise friend told me that imagining it opened the door to allow it to happen.
I simply allowed myself to imagine a new way of being, a new way of seeing.
I reframed this experience and turned the corner to healing this one part of the hurt I had inside.

Little by little we can heal.  It takes a desire to change the old way of being and a willingness to risk trying.  I needed to make a shift in how I saw my world. I needed to risk taking the emotional reaction so familiar and so justified and exchanging it for a new one.  It didn’t make my loss go away.  It didn’t require me to forget.  But it created a different memory for me – a grateful moment in the place of a painful longing. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

not a loss

This morning
bathed in the light of this new day
with its sparkling, glittering, quiet newness
it comes to me that Matt’s death is not a loss
            but a difference.

I feel him so strongly
his spirit shining more brightly each day
as he grows into his new existence
            learning to breathe the light
            travel with the wind
            sing each bird song
            greet me in each flower
and surprise me over and over with brilliance.

We haven’t lost him . . . we must simply learn a new way to be together

And once we do that, this will be so much easier
            less tangled
            less fractured
            less anxious
            less dependent upon the physical and the temporal

My tears change
            sometimes they don’t come from sadness
            but from the joy of Truth.