Monday, June 22, 2015

layer upon layer of beauty

Dewitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer who lives in the layered beauty of Hawaii.   His way of seeing is remarkable.  He says that when we look, we must be patient and look long enough to truly see the “unimaginable” come into focus. We must be willing to take the time to allow the wholeness to take its full shape.

Recently I saw a photo he took and he labeled it, 
    “Layer upon layer of beauty – not a battle for survival but a tapestry of co-existence.” 

It occurs to me that if we could learn to see our life losses this way, what a gift that would be.  Can I see the loss of our son and the impact of that sorrow on my heart . . . not as “a battle for survival “ (the way it felt for so long) but as a tapestry of the co-existence of loss and gift, of sorrow and gratitude, of tragedy and beauty.  

Perhaps this is the way a heart heals once it has been broken. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

generosity of presence

Grief sometimes feels like a struggle for clarity. 
Emotions run rampant and  questions overwhelm . . . all in a body that stays exhausted from the sheer effort to breathe. 

Gunilla Norris writes in her beautiful book of reflections, Sheltered in the Heart,

“Understanding the issues we each grapple with, we help each other gain clarity.  No problems are solved until they are identified.  No goals are reached until they are named.  Within a relationship of trust and love we have the assurance of honesty and the generosity of presence that helps us sort things out.  . . . as we clarify,  there is a sifting that goes on – a bit like using a sieve at the beach.  There is always so much extraneous stuff that must pass through for us to be able to see the stones that block the flow . . . together we can let the sand run and see what remains. . . . making clear what belongs to us to deal with.”

And therein lies the power of support groups . . . relationships that patiently offer the safety we need to emerge from the fog of grief. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

a new dawn

March is a special month in the life of the support group I facilitate.  Out of the 11 members of our group, 7 of them lost their child in March.  So, when we meet this month we will take great care to remember each child in a special way.  

Anniversaries are sacred times, I think, because they allow us to pause and take in the significance of this precious life, to realize that our hearts are more open than we ever thought possible and our understanding is deepening in ways we never could have anticipated.   For example, grief teaches us that joy and sorrow are inseparable, as strange as that seems.  

I love Wendell Berry's words that capture our discovery in times like these:

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work
    and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey."

Monday, February 2, 2015

be here, now

This week I read a beautiful ,brief meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh.  
Take one breath to let go (of all the emotional energy that is crowding your mind and body)
Take one breath to be here  
Take one breath to ask, “Now what?”  

It is  portable, 
        easy to remember, 
        clarifying when emotional memories suddenly descend upon us and 
        compassionately gentle to a grieving heart.  

We don’t have to travel this entire journey toward wholeness today . . . only take the “next step”.