Monday, December 31, 2012

living in-between

Today is the last day of this year and tomorrow a new year will begin.  Deep grief makes it hard to turn this page of time.  We live between the feeling that we want this painful year to end and yet, we have no desire to go into a new year without this precious loved one.  So, we are “in between” these two conflicting feelings.  And in some ways, recognizing the “in between-ness” is a way of grasping the very nature of grief. 

I remember realizing when our son died that I could not “not” know what I know.
I know the depth of his struggle and the depth of my sorrow from his physical absence.  But I also know the joy he knew and the joy he brought into our lives.  I know the preciousness of the memories I have and the fact that those memories are completed.  I have them all . . . as I have all the pictures that I will ever have.  I cannot “not” know that.  I know the beauty and joy of this world and I know the utter devastation of loss that can happen.  So, I’m learning to live in between these truths – denying neither one.  

It isn’t easy to learn.  The heart must stretch as we try to live open enough to hold it all.  Peace, I think - rather than being the absence of pain and struggle – is learning to live in between the fullness of both the sadness and the joy of our lives.    

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

All that a heart has to hold
                so many questions unanswered
                so many cycles and seasons
                 each with its stories untold

All that a heart has to hold
                all that its border encloses
                deep in its chambers protect
                our names and our colors and countries

The endless procession,
                the births and the dying
                 the loving and knowing,    
                 and all the letting go . . .

How do I hold all that a heart is meant to hold?

Hold me now, O Love,
                gentle in the knowing
You are not alone
                 in the holding of your heart

And so we find
                that it’s not too much to hold
                not too much to see
In every gift of loving part of our story is told

It’s not too much to bear
                though the weight is often heavy
We are held within this longing by deep Love that holds us all…

Sing your heart’s desire,
                sigh your sorrows deep
Tell your own true stories each day…

Pray a deeper prayer,
                bring all that lies deep within your eyes
                all your praises and your longing
                and restore your untamed heart in this deep unending Love…

by Craig Hella Johnson

Saturday, December 15, 2012

we know this part

we know this part
by heart
no rehearsal needed
this is deeply and painfully familiar

so we have no choice
but to let our hearts break
with all who fall into the grip of this nightmare

we've been here before
we know the way in
and the way through

take our hands
we will go with you
because we know this part
by heart

Friday, December 14, 2012

a cloudy Christmas

For those whose lives have been shattered by loss, Christmas is like living inside a memory.  It is like walking around observing a carefree-ness that seems, now, uninformed and na├»ve . . . and all the gaily twinkling lights and piped music cannot draw you in.

This year Christmas seems like a time for others whose lives remain intact and easy – not ripped open with some vital piece torn away leaving you raw, ravaged and vulnerable.   So, how do we do this holiday then?  How do we endure the “happiness” everywhere that ignores those of us who cannot feel it no matter how much we wish we could?

I think we make our way through these cloudy Christmas days with the memory of our precious loved one at the center of it all.  He will be there anyway, so make a proper place for him.  Decorate her photo.  Give a gift in memory and honor of him.  Intentionally remember joyous Christmases you cherish.  Then sprinkle in and around those moments, times of quiet peace . . . walks in the natural world, small gatherings of friends who can allow you to be who you are and the freedom to protect yourself from the expectations of The Season that drive you to do things that are exhausting. 

Simply let this year be different . . . dimmed by the sorrow that is born of the very love that is being celebrated.  It is strange.  You know the love that is full of peace, hope and joy.  You know it more deeply and more intimately than ever before.  So, even though this Christmas is cloudy, foggy and overcast . . . your heart can see through all that to what is deeply and eternally true. 

in the shadow of blinking Christmas lights
of holiday parties and celebrations
surrounded by gift shoppers
and promises of peace, hope and joy

it is winter in my heart

i am the cold, cloudy days
the damp leafless trees
the stark stillness of the night sky
filled with longing

so . . . Holy One who knows the seasons of our hearts
be the sunrise that warms
be the breeze that freshens
be the light that illuminates

and help me give birth to The Love that is ever deeper and more sustaining