The Land of Tears

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It is such a secret place, the land of tears.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“The Little Prince”

Image and post courtesy of: Wisdom of the Sacred Feminine
Wisdom of the Sacred Feminine

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Life’s Unwanted Things

I’m trying not to be broken by life’s unwanted things.  I’m trying to accept what too often feels unacceptable, to surrender to what feels too excruciating to bear.  And hoping, trusting really, that in my acceptance, in my surrender, I’ll not be lost.  A favorite author, Linda Hogan, says that, “In real life hearts break, and sometimes remain that way.  Things and people close and never open again.”  I know this is true.  I’ve seen it happen to others and on more than a few occasions, I’ve been to that edge myself… I used to pray to be well again, to be free from the illness that has ravaged so much of my life, laying waste to everything except what’s most essential. Sometimes I still pray for that, for it all to just go away; to steal off into the night and leave just as unannounced as it came. But mostly now I pray simply not to be undone by it.  I pray that if there is something to be learned from this, perhaps even something to be gained, that I be granted the foresight and the wisdom to discern and live these lessons; these gifts?  I also can’t help but wonder if I didn’t somehow, someway call this terrible experience, this illness, into my life?  I worry that perhaps I would have been too weak or maybe even too reckless to look deeply into the way things are, to really see and live what’s authentic without it?  That I somehow needed the suffering and limitations to get to this terrible, beautiful place where I would learn with such a profound intensity to have faith, to trust, and most importantly to love.

There’s a tree that grows just outside my bedroom window.  I spend hours looking at her, measuring the change in seasons by her.  Spring is glorious.  The tree grows nubby with promise, until I wake one day to see her covered in lace – the first signs of new leaves.  With summer comes the berries, and I watch the robins and waxwings squabble for every morsel.  I’ve even seen our local chipmunk brave the heights, ignoring the birds, for his fair share of the bounty.  Fall is my favorite season.  The leaves are on fire, orange and gold, one last hurrah before she sleeps.   Then winter.  The leaves have all gone now and the tree offers up her bones to me, her very soul on display.  Every season seems to teach me something, to offer me something, but it’s in winter that I noticed the tree’s branches, how they reach out into the world, growing thinner and more vulnerable the deeper she stretches.  I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t a metaphor, a life lesson, for how we too should reach out into the world?

Maybe I did need this darkness to realize the light.  Maybe without it, I wouldn’t have found the courage to live from my heart, to follow the example of the tree, and make myself thin so that the mystery of life might enter in, and how in return, I now touch everything with a tenderness before not possessed.  There’s risk involved to be sure, to be this vulnerable, to live this essentially, but I’ve come to see that I no longer have the will to live any other way.

The Silence of Suffering

Even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by
drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
~Aeschylus

There is secret medicine given only to those who hurt so bad they can’t hope.
~Rumi

Accept the pain as part of the mystery of life and learn how to grieve so that the suffering would crack us open enough for tendrils of grace to twine around the moments and events we could not control.
~Dawna Markova

There’s a stillness to grief; to all suffering really.  A muted silence, as the world fades into the background and you at last open yourself up to what’s impossible to avoid or prevent. It’s like a softly falling rain that never ends.  I’d spent years resisting it, trying anything not to go ‘there’. So afraid that I might be overwhelmed and never find my way back.  Finally, I realized that there was no avoiding it.  Heartache, suffering of any kind, simply cannot go unacknowledged.  It’s too profound, too life changing.  I could see at last that no matter how I’d tried to ignore or distract myself from what was happening, it had always been there, within me, coloring all my days, altering me, in spite of all my efforts to hold true.  With that realization, I finally found the courage to sit with my pain.  To let it be what it was, to take me where it would.  And it was overwhelming, and terrifying, and endless, but eventually, at the center of it, there was also this moment of peace, an unexpected grace that emptied me out and filled me up, all at the same time.   And I could see, really see, that it was only pain, only suffering.  And while it had often felt unbearable, it had also opened my heart in a way that nothing else ever could.  It had worn smooth all the jagged edges and made tender even the most uninhabitable parts of who I was.

Love Now!

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a rare and beautiful country lies in between.
~Diane Ackerman

Mortality gives us our tenderness for the common moments, the whole of life.
And we are always led back to love, and our beautiful helplessness,
sustained as we are by what is larger than ourselves.
~John Tarrant

I have a friend who is, even now as I write this, experiencing the very worst kind of pain, facing the hardest thing life forces upon us.  His partner of 11 plus years is dying.  His Beth is slipping away.  And he’s being so brave.  Trying valiantly to give her what she needs, to be what she needs.   But he’s also afraid; afraid of all that’s coming next and of being alone.  He said he’s never been good at that, but then who is, really? I tried to reassure him, saying all the things people say in these excruciating circumstances….that he must endure, that he must love in every moment and simply let the rest be what it is.  That’s my advice for everything really, no matter what; to love now, and let the rest go, let it be.  But it’s never more profound than in moments like the one my friend is facing.