No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear …

Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to love in a new way now that our loved one is no longer with us. Consciously remembering those who have died is the key that opens the hearts, that allows us to love them in new ways.
— Tom Attig from The Heart of Grief

 

Heavy

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends. Continue reading “No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear …”

Life’s Beautiful Uncertainty …

Maybe happiness is not about us, as individuals.
Maybe it is not something that arrives into us.
Maybe happiness is felt heading out, not in.
Maybe happiness is not about what we deserve because we’re worth it.
Maybe happiness is not about what we can get.
Maybe happiness is about what we already have.
Maybe happiness is about what we can give.
Maybe happiness is not a butterfly we can catch with a net.
Maybe there is no certain way to be happy.
Maybe there are only maybes.
If (as Emily Dickinson said) ‘Forever — is composed of Nows — ‘, maybe the nows are made of maybes.
Maybe the point of life is to give up certainty and to embrace life’s beautiful uncertainty.
— Matt Haig from Notes On A Nervous Planet

Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow.
— Steve Pavlina from The Courage to Live Consciously

Continue reading “Life’s Beautiful Uncertainty …”

I Will Not Let You Go Until You Bless Me …

It is true that if you read the Jewish literature and you read Jewish history, happiness is not the first word that comes to mind  … And yet somehow or other when all of that is at an end, we get together and we celebrate … And that to me is how I have always defined my faith as a Jew. The definition of a Jew, Israel is at it says in Genesis 34, one who struggles, wrestles, with God and with humanity and prevails. And Jacob says something very profound to the angel.  He says, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” And that I feel about suffering. When something bad happens, I will not let go of that bad thing until I have discovered the blessing that lies within it.  When my late father died — now I’m in mourning for my late mother — that sense of grief and bereavement suddenly taught me that so many things that I thought were important, externals, etc., all of that is irrelevant. You lose a parent, you suddenly realize what a slender thing life is, how easily you can lose those you love. Then out of that comes a new simplicity and that is why sometimes all the pain and the tears lift you to a much higher and deeper joy when you say to the bad times, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
—  Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks (excerpted from an interview with Krista Tippett: On Being – The Dignity of Difference)

Somehow, within every crisis lies the glorious possibility of rebirth. I have found, and so surely have many others, that the events that at the time were the most painful, were also those that in retrospect most caused us to grow. They helped us to make difficult but necessary decisions. They forced us to ask: “Who am I and what really matters to me?” They moved us from the surface to the depths, where we discovered strengths we did not know we had, and a clarity of purpose we had hitherto lacked. I have learnt to say to every crisis: “I will not let you go until you bless me”.  The struggle is not easy. Though Jacob was undefeated, after it he “limped”. Battles leave scars. Yet God is with us even when he seems to be against us. For if we refuse to let go of him, He refuses to let go of us, giving us the strength to survive and emerge stronger, wiser, blessed.
Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks (excerpted from “Credo: How Jacob conquered the defining crisis of his life” published in The Times on May 29, 2009)

Joy will sneak up on you when you view your hardest lessons as gifts from God.
— Charles Swindoll from Insights for Living

Turn your wounds into wisdom.
— Oprah Winfrey

The Merton Prayer …

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

— Thomas Merton from Thoughts In Solitude

This prayer acknowledges that, despite our human tendency to think we know what life is about and how we can manage it, we really have no clue. As the Jews say, “Man plans; God laughs.”

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov 16:9)

In the chapter following this prayer, Merton writes, “In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.

“…Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.”

Merton suggests that it is learning to live in “silence” that enables us to live at peace with the contradictions that lie within us. The contradictions remain, but they cease to be a problem for us.

The prayer … expresses the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God’s presence in a life with so many unknowns and irresolvable conflicts.

 on September 27, 2011.

Love and Go On …

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
— David Harkins

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
— Annie (The Movie)