Grief-Unnamed Five Years Ago
“…come, rest on me/and when you leave/my roots will ground your journey/my branches, offer you/possibility/hope/life.” These were the closing words of a poem I wrote five years ago called “touching wisdom” during a Portland Woman Writers retreat where I leaned into an ancient tree. Tucked away in a file, unpolished, I stumbled upon it looking for something else the other day. How prescient considering the sojourn I am preparing for, departure now less than three weeks away.
Funny how Grief will turn our heads and hearts toward the past before we step into the unknown. Five years ago: my mother still living, and I, struggling with her fading. Five years ago: still married, the hard decision to divorce loitering in the shadows waiting for courage to arrive. Five years ago: mired in stress, I drew solace in my work as a hospice chaplain. Five years ago: the trees gathered my heart in, knowing I was a sojourner in spirit if not yet in body. Knew I would be returning over and over to them for guidance and healing.
I have come to believe healing is best recognized looking in the rear view mirror and eyeing the reflection of one’s younger self with curiosity. If those elder, barked, and rooted guides on my journey five years ago had even hinted about my upcoming eight-week trip, I would have gawked in disbelief. Then I did not believe I had the power to claim space to take a sojourn. The pericardial sac that protected my heart was on guard. Stepping outside the protective boundary was exhausting. Five years on, I can see where a fire had to burn through me, inflame the sac, release the seeds for me to grow. Wounds can be painful as they heal. Days were taken one at a time. When I needed succor, I sat in the cool shade of pines and maples. And now five years have passed.
Now I can see the scars that have formed. Trace them in love. I can be the story I am becoming. The story I am. And the story I was. I have discovered I can live without a metaphorical pericardial sac around my heart. I imagine my scars woven into a fine gauze with different colored threads, floating over my heart, not to close it or mask it, but to let the light of other’s stories filter in, mingle with mine, and radiate like the Northern Lights. Never still, never settled. Full of pain, happiness, sorrow, joy, confusion, loss, hope, and the myriad of emotions that arise throughout life, they cannot be contained. The stories of others are not mine to keep or even hold, only let in with kindness and compassion and then released back out with my own.
Open Heart-Open to Life
My own stories include those scars. Insights happen as I trace my scars in love. I feel my heart beating and opening. The blood flowing, powerful as a swan rising off the lake, wings expanding to capture the air. There is no fear. No need to hang onto the resentments hidden in my depths, though it took stillness to hear their bitter chant and release them. An open heart can receive. An open heart can be grateful. And yes, it can be wounded again. Scars are a woefully inadequate substitute for armor. And they are an abundant reminder of our human capacity to endure, overcome, and, if we are willing, embrace life and love again and again and again.
What stories are held in your scars? Take a moment to trace any physical scars you have on your body. What are they saying to you?
Follow My Grief Sojourn
As my departure draws closer (April 14) I find a desire to be both fully present to the moments I am living now and a growing anticipation for what is unfolding. A bit overwhelming at times! This is where I give a shout out to my travel guru, Living Big Travel, who is handling the logistics of my journey. Mary is terrific at keeping me on task about the essentials so that “misadventures” will be kept to a minimum.
I will be blogging during my sojourn as Nurture Your Journey. I invite you to follow along with my “Sojourning with Grief” posts. You can subscribe through “bloglovin’’ by clicking on the right hand side of my main blog page and get regular feeds in your email.
First Grief Workshop After I Return-Focus on Transitions
August 10th, 1-5pm in SW Portland: Recognizing & Honoring Life Transitions.
This workshop is a popular one!
We transition from the wet womb to open air, sucking in first breath. Relationships form. Some endure. Some end. Our sense of home and belonging shifts. What gives life meaning—school, career, family, beauty, creativity, service—ebbs and flows as we age. Our lives are full of transitions. Some weave in and out of our world seamlessly, going unrecognized until years later. Others create a temporary loss of balance. Then there are the transitions that leave you feeling like the GPS of your life has gone haywire.
Taking time to recognize life transitions by naming them can offer relief, release, or an invitation to honor a part of your life journey that you may not have considered relevant.
In this workshop, you’ll be introduced to the archetype of the labyrinth as a tool to reflect on your life transitions in combination with written expression and other creative means. No writing experience is necessary to participate! This workshop is in partnership with Portland Women Writers (http://pdxwomenwriters.com/) and is for women or those who identify female. Workshop is limited to 12 participants.
Follow this link to register or to contact me for more information.