Home

Saturation

9 Comments

SATURATION

Nine hours of interstate and my car sloshes into the two muddy ruts that pass for a driveway. I step out into the rain expecting the usual scent of pine, but am instead blessed by a breeze saturated with lilac and lily of the valley.

I am early this year — I’ve never seen the lilacs bloom; never seen the lily fronds petaled with fallen apple and quince blossoms.

Birdbath with apple blossoms

It must have been raining for days. The bushes and trees hang heavily, and the ground is soggy beneath my bare feet as I traipse back and forth, back and forth through the wet grass, blue jeans rolled to my knees, carrying my cats, my books, my cooler, my clothes.

Unpacked, I return to the car and head to the spring in the glistening dusk. I drive slowly, windows open, and breathe.

And breathe.

Every small hollow is full of water and bursting with song. I’ve never heard the spring peepers here, either, and I swerve drunkenly to miss the scores of sex-crazed frogs leaping wildly across the road.

Across from the spring, bits of mist drift down the dark mountain and promise a heavy morning fog. Below, the Ashuelot River dances giddily along its banks dressed in decorative white foam, as if rushing to a rendezvous downstream.

I fill my bottles with fresh water and nature fills my soul with springtime scents and songs.

I am here.

 

 

Finding the Beauty in Grief and Loss

7 Comments

In light of yesterday’s mass shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando, I am republishing this 2014 post on finding the beauty in grief and loss. Perhaps it can lighten your load today.

RAINBOW US FLAG

It’s amazing what happens when you invite people to talk about grief and loss. It’s as if everybody walks around with a lid on their pain until somebody gives them permission to take it off.

I led a spiritual support group discussion last week and suggested the topic, which won’t surprise you, dear reader, since I’ve offered you virtually nothing else since my brother passed away ten weeks ago.

biff among the cards

But I’m not just talking about death. I’m talking about losing a job and not being able to find another one. I know several people who have been in that ego-crushing situation, and it can lead to serious depression and anxiety issues if the loss is not given its due.

I’m talking about having an intimate relationship slowly fizzle out until you find yourself attached to someone you barely recognize. There’s no “crisis,” yet all your dreams of how life could be with this person are lost. You’re left with a gaping hole that you may try to fill with alcohol, drugs, busyness, shopping, porn – anything to numb the loss that you don’t want to confront.

I’m talking about lost friendships that fade out when one of you moves or leaves a job, or a broken friendship that can’t be mended even if you both try because essential pieces have been lost, most often trust.

Grieving over lost health was a common theme in our support group. One minute you’re an employee, a parent, a sibling and you’re cleaning, fixing, planning, and generally living life, and the next you are a patient being cut open or pumped full of poisons that are supposed to cure you.  You lose who you thought you were.

And of course there’s death. One person in our group lost her father to suicide at sixteen. By the time she was twenty-one, she had also lost her brother in a helicopter crash and her sister and mother to cancer. Although we all knew her at least superficially, none of us in the group had ever heard this before. She had a lid on it.

What resonated most with me at that meeting was a woman who said, “I know it’s weird, but I love grief. I live grief.” She said she couldn’t really explain what she meant, but I think I have a clue.

Grief Makes Us One

For one thing, grief is universal. It is something we all share, and it can bring us together. Not always, of course – I’ve heard countless stories of siblings whose relationships imploded on the death of their parents. But in general, we nod, we empathize, we hug each other. We know.

The Bible says that the “God of all comfort . . . comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” That’s why it’s important to take time alone to process your grief, to take the lid off and let God in, because there’s cosmic comfort there if you ask for it. And it’s a universal spirit of comfort that we can all share with each other. Depending on the day, God’s comfort can knock you off your feet or set you back on your feet.

Grief Makes Us Real

Similarly, grief elicits authenticity. After September 11th, I had a strange feeling of not wanting to leave that cocoon of grief, that sacred time of national mourning: it was a rare time of authentic community for our nation.

We often feel we don’t know what to say to a bereaved person, but that’s because we’re called upon to be totally real. Everyday words don’t seem adequate. Most of the sympathy cards atop my piano start off with, “I don’t know what to say” and then go on to say something lovely. And real.

Real Words

Real Words

Grief Leads Us Towards Our Truth

Grief is deep – it leads us into our true humanity. It drowns out the TV, the advertisements, the ringing phone, and the beeping computer. If we are courageous enough to take the lid off our pain and share it, we can reach our true self – and go there with others.

We all “live grief,” as my friend said. It’s very much a part of being human, and it teaches us to search for meaning and a larger perspective on our little human lives. It teaches us to open up to God and to love one another.

What have you learned from grief and loss?

Shifting Reality – A Poem

Leave a comment

SHIFTING REALITY

They collide, a bear and a dogbone,

To become a giant mouse head.

I surrender to shifting reality.

◊  ◊  ◊

An angel’s cowlick elongates, circles to her chin

And forms an elephant’s trunk,

Lifting water to mouth.

◊  ◊  ◊

Continents morph as maps float by,

Mountains to peninsulas to islands;

Plate tectonics on amphetamines.

◊  ◊  ◊

A laughing alligator with a camel’s hump

Gallops towards the horizon, and . . .

Blue! All is blue!

◊  ◊  ◊

Airy wisps of white cotton candy coalesce

Shaping a tropical storm swirl,

And the shifting begins again.

◊  ◊  ◊

Shifting Reality

Shifting Reality

God’s Work

3 Comments

Now that the U.S. election is over, perhaps we can let God get back to work. We’ve kept the Creator of the Universe very busy with ballot initiatives labeled “anti-God” or “God’s will” or “godless.” This party or that party is rejecting God or using God or ignoring God. Millions of people have been praying to God to let X win or Y lose because otherwise it will mean doom for our nation and perhaps the world.

Really?

Don’t you think God has just a wee bit bigger perspective? Sometimes people forget:

God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. And guess what…God is not even an American!

Gasp!

Let me step back — I am aware that quite a few people don’t believe in God — many of the people I love most do not.

In America, much wind is expended trying to justify – or nullify – the existence of God. This strikes me as highly amusing – I’m not sure why.

I mean, if there is a God, how funny is that? All these little created things running around insisting they weren’t created.

God’s existence, though, is one of the very few things of which I am certain.

I’m Not as Smart as I Used to Be

I used to be certain about lots of things. To be honest, I thought I knew best about most things. I think a lot of people do. It covers up their low self-esteem.

I inherited this “I know best” belief. I dearly love my departed parents, but recognize that my mother’s regal British nose was tilted ever so slightly upwards, and my father’s Texan roots were firmly grounded in the belief that Texans are bigger and better, period.

Her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria

Cowboy Boot And Hat Clip Art

Don’t Mess With Texas

I can still be cocky or defensive on a bad day, especially during an election. Tilted noses and Texan roots die hard. But really, why would I have more or less of “the truth” than anyone else?

What a relief: I don’t have to have all the answers or “prove” anything!

Unnecessary Extravagance

I don’t have to prove to you that God exists. I can’t. That’s God’s work. Still, I will say that the idea that there is no God, no higher spirit, no over-arching consciousness, no Creator, seems utterly absurd to me.

Here’s why I believe:

  • There are sunsets. (And sunrises, so I’ve been told.)
  • We can see colors. How astonishing!
  • I have looked through a microscope and a telescope.
  • Galaxies upon galaxies. Shooting stars and crescent moons.
  • Humans make art and appreciate beauty for no apparent reason.
  • Flowers attract pollinators with exuberant colors and soul-filling smells. Unnecessarily extravagant, wouldn’t you say?
  • Natural cycles: water, nitrogen, photosynthesis, evolution – gloriously complex, yet simple. Brilliant.
  • If I pray, I can easily LOVE someone I previously could not stand. Try it.
  • Because the longer I spend alone and in silence, the more I know I’m not alone.
  • Because the idea that all this just kinda happened  is funnier than Jon Stewart.

I’m done writing about politics for now. (Unless you consider climate change political. I can’t seem to stay away from that topic.) Since I’m swearing off writing about politics on account of my blood pressure, I thought I’d move on to something less controversial, like religion.

Which brings me to my questions: If God were to register, do you think it would be as an Independent? And if you don’t believe in God, what’s wrong with you anyway??

 

stars

%d bloggers like this: