I know now that, over the years, my own cries that life is unfair, have come from the inescapable pain of living, and these cries, while understandable, have always diverted me from feeling my way through the pain of my breakage into the re-formation of my life. Somehow, crying “Unfair” has always kept me stuck in what hurts.
I offer what has surprised me in my pain: that life is not fair, but unending in its capacity to change us; that compassion is fair and feeling is just: and that we are not responsible for all that befalls us, only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.
When you feel you have no more to give, keep your heart open just a while longer, because this is when the deepest gift we have is about to show itself. This is the foundational side of a paradox that can’t be explained: as we’re humbled over time to honor our very real limitations, the light we carry is ever more exposed through those limitations. And just when we’re at the end of what we know, the soul’s lips are ready to meet the world. As we honor our frailties, we’re also asked to trust in the inexhaustible Source the heart is threshold to. While the container we are can wear down and weaken, the Spirit we carry is indestructible. I know this because I’ve watched the life-force burst from those being born and I’ve bowed to the tenderness seeping from others as they die. I know this because I’ve almost died myself, and have felt the life-force burst and seep through me. I’ve been roughly rearranged by life until the face beneath my face, that can hide nothing, finally met the world. Once the light we carry is felt and known, a covenant is awakened within us to keep that inexhaustible light in view. This is a marriage of the deepest kind between our soul and the life that carries that soul while here on Earth.
We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
And I say to my heart:
When you have picked the shards of glass out of your bloodstream, carefully, and packed away your sorrows in their boxes, one by one, don’t hide them in the attic. They will grow cobwebs there. They will take up space. Sooner or later you will trip over them. Give them to the bonfire or the junk sale, because their usefulness is done.
Your pain is the consequence of being human. It is a sign you have reached some limit in yourself you must respect. When you run too far, it is the ache in your legs that will tell you to stop. When you are too tired, or too lost or you are hurting, it is the ache in your heart which tells you that it is too much.
Give yourself sustenance in whatever form you need it. Find peace in music and books, or in kisses and laughter and in other people. Eat good food, and drink more water than tea, but hopefully still enough of the second. Sleep if you can. Grow something: A cactus or a flower or a project. Be kind to who you are.
If something you need is missing, close your eyes and picture it. Imagine it for yourself, because you are a joyful painter with the finest paint palette that ever was, and the whole canvas of your mind is waiting.
Let yourself cry. Tears do not waste themselves. They are like tree sap; a consequence of pressure building up and they flow out of injuries, of all kinds. They release the pressure, a little, and they aid in your healing.
You may be afraid but that is just the part of you that wants to protect you reminding you that it is there. It is guarding you well. You may feel small but you are bound to sometimes, because you dream in ways that would seem vast to any giant.
Don’t be too disheartened. Ants can recognise their own faces in a mirror. An Octopus can unscrew the lid of a jar, from the inside, if you let it. There are people making centrifuges out of paper. The ozone layer is repairing itself. There are nearly a thousand different types of cheeses in existence. The world is worthwhile, even though it contains some terrible things. Life is, too.
You are so lovely, even when you don’t believe it.
We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul
of the universe may fill us with its breath.
We live our long, worn days in the shadows, in what often feels like barren, cold winter, so unaware of the miracles that are being created in our spirits. It takes the sudden daylight, some unexpected surprise of life, to cause our gaze to look upon a simple, stunning growth that has happened quietly inside us. Like frost designs on a winter window, they bring us beyond life’s fragmentation and remind us that we are not nearly as lost as we thought we were, that all the time we thought we were dead inside, beautiful things were being born in us.
Praying Our Goodbyes