From the time I was two years old, loss and grief have been a theme which continued to play out in my life. As I grew that play turned harder, tougher, longer and more virulent.
Each time, the growing pains came with a magnitude of costs to me and now as an adult, past middle-age, the costs are becoming more challenging to recover from.
I recall an image of myself as a child. Inside what I felt was deep sadness, but my will was so darn resilient. The image which comes to mind is the image of me in my “happy place.” In the water. I don’t know if I would really look happy to other people, but that is never something which has carried much weight with me. I see it. I can see it. I know what it meant to me to be there in that moment. Carried and held by the water. Maybe it was from another life. Maybe I was escaping. But it was there that I was buoyant and happy and fully alive and joyful.
Grief can take you out. And you can choose to allow it to define you. Joan Didion wrote about it in The Year of Magical Thinking. She said “people who have lost someone have a certain look... recognizable to those who have seen that look on their own faces.- They look naked because they think themselves invisible.”
Some people sit in the questions of why. They are legitimate questions. But I do not find them useful to me even as I hurt. Even as I have responded to hurt by cultivating relationships which have recapitulated the precise hurts and losses I have needed to heal. The precise things which I have set out to heal and have set my life on a trajectory to heal. Even as...
I recall a highly regarded teacher offering a teaching once which said, “If god is in everything, then you cannot say, BUT NOT in this cancer.”
I know how hard that one is to swallow. Cancer. I know. I get it. You may not believe me, but I get how hard it may be to begin there. But that was the transmission I was given that day and it had a huge impact.
We can spend our lives fighting against what we have been given or we can step into what we are presented with. I am not like too many who come across my path. I feel it all. Those who know me see it in my eyes. I have watched how many have run in the other direction. But I am committed to a path of being truly who I am and not a version of what makes another more comfortable in my presence. This path is about getting to the core of ourselves and our deepest understandings so that we can bring our greatest clarity and and clearest hearts to one another so that we can come from love and not from hurt. Does the purity of heart scare people? Reports have come back to me that it does. But all I can do is keep being faithful to my path and my own inner work and my own healing and pray that I am doing good work, and loving from the clearest and strongest place that I can. Keep repairing the fractures which live inside of me and not allow them to be passed on. Because those fractures have harmed me but I cannot not allow them to become me. What I can do is to allow the harm to stop here. Right now.
If god is in everything, god is in everything. God is in this karma which we have been given. Yes, I DID think the hard part was over. But maybe it just isn’t. And sometimes words mean very little. Sometimes its even hard to find faith. Sometimes things fall apart completely in ways no one could possibly even imagine before anything can even begin to be rebuilt.
But if god is in everything, then god is in everything.
A gesture. The timing of when a question is asked. The way in which you bear witness.
I saw a woman today and she had a very pronounced limp. She had a job and I have been looking for work for 7.5 months to no avail. She was beautiful. I wondered why she had that limp and thought how beautiful that it wasn’t an obstacle to her livelihood. I felt so delighted to bear witness to that. We began to speak privately and because the scar which spans across my neck is so obvious, it opened the door to a comment about herself and so I asked what her disability was. She told me. It was a stunning conversation. She felt held with respect and I felt honored to listen with love and compassion to the depths of what few would ever ask.
How she changed me. Just exquisite.
Step by step, I will not be defined by that look which is “recognizable to those who have seen that look on their own faces.”
I dedicate my inner life to healing and to loving.
Some of the lights have gone out lately but when I see the reflection of that little girl who carried so much sadness but willed herself back to life, I know that god is not just in everything... but more specifically, in me. And in everyone of us.