Monday, July 21, 2014

death is . . .

"Melting apparent
surfaces away
and displaying
the infinite
which was hid"

    a comforting description of Matt's death
      and yet               
profoundly simple as this truth is, 
  grief makes it difficult to hold 

          (taken from The Poet by David Whyte from his book, River Flow)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

silence can be surprising

         I have heard it said that silence is God’s favorite language.  It is a wordless kind of prayer, an experience of presence, and sacred patience. There is no evaluation of behavior or agenda of needs . . . only quiet listening.

         I have been to silent retreats in a variety of ways over the last few years.  I have gone to national parks to hike alone, stay alone and eat alone.  I have attended a retreat center where everyone “kept silence” together.  And I have spent time at a little place called The Quiet House on a ranch in West Texas where silence was profound -  literally no voiced sound unless I or some other forest creature made it.  What is the same in each setting is that something rests in me when I reduce the stimulus to the simple beauty and fascination of nature.  When I stop my own voice, I can listen to what my heart knows is true.  

         I remember the first meditation retreat I attended.  It was a 5 day event and I knew very little of what “sitting” in meditation was all about. The first evening we “sat” together in a circle – some on the floor and some in chairs.  The leader asked us to keep the same spots for the entire 5 days.  I thought to myself, “That sounds a little silly. What possible difference could it make where we sit?” 
         The second day we were to have a choice between 3 consecutive “sits” or one “sit” followed by some basic instruction on meditation.  I was immediately sure that instruction was what I needed, however, when we arrived the next morning,  the facilitator announced that since this group was so centered (what did that mean?) we would all stay for the 3 consecutive “sits”.  I panicked . . . and silently yelled,  “That is a whole hour !”
         And yet, I was surprised  . . . once I let go of evaluating this experience I had never had and simply gave myself to it . . . I found it calming and comforting. 
         I learned other things that week, too.  I grew to look forward to the shuffling and settling of each individual each day.  I became familiar and tenderly patient with each person’s level of comfort.  Something in me was connected to each person in the circle. Then,  on the last day the person who had been next to me all week, but to whom I had not spoken, smiled at me and said, “How am I going to do this tomorrow when you aren’t there?”

         I learned that when we stop the noise – both outside and inside – we open the way to learn a new kind of communication.  Maybe we learn to pay attention to ourselves and to each other in a new way. . . . and this level of listening is a profound need for anyone whose child dies. The old ways are no longer available and we need to pay attention in a new way, to be aware in a new way and to hear in a new way.   Surprisingly, silence is teaching me. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

this says it all

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

Who hasn’t loved this line from the beloved sage, Truvy,  in Steel Magnolias ?
She captures what I think describes the very nature of healing. 

When we can feel both the light-heartedness of delight 
and the heart-breaking depth of sorrow 
in the same moment, 
we have healed our urge to divide life into parts.  

So, to live life with wide open eyes and unclenched fists 
is not to see through the lens of either-or, 
but rather to be able to hold both-and 
within your embrace. 

 by Emily Beynon