In the woods, the stream tables herself over a granite disk that dares to interrupt her rush down the mountain. Silvery fingers are formed at the dropoff point, clutching the rock's edges, slipping, reforming each moment amidst the tumble and flow. Can anyone tell me this is pure physics when I can hear the stream's song with my outer and inner ears? My knees want to bend, I want to trouble the water with my fleshy fingers and clasp the silver ones of the stream, clutch her hands, mercurial and wild. In these moments, I feel you most of all. In these moments I feel I must have pierced the veil between the living and the so-called dead, my face now halfway through the other side, your face pressed close and your lips kissing mine. Nevermind that tears are shimmering down my cheeks; no need to explain the crucifixion of love against loss, the burning in the body, the way that pain makes love with joy, no way to help anyone else. Grief is an involuntary act of ensoulment that benefits the heart of the world. I see my feet moving along this path, sometimes flying, sometimes stopping for a picnic by the river on my way to die and be reborn, and die again and come alive anew. I follow the roadsigns put before me, whether anyone else sees them or not.
by Kayla McClurg, "Waiting For The Light: Advent Day By Day", InwardOutward.org
"We fall for it again and again, the lie: 'If only I could stay in control of whatever gives me a sense of safety, I would have peace.' But true peace more often comes on the other side of loss, all those small deaths that knock us down, sometimes knock us out. Broken relationships, false accusations, despair and grief can be gateways to peace.
Peace lies on the far side of what feels like failure. We prefer the peace of warm feelings, but true peace travels a rockier road. When we have been demoralized by something we did (or did not do), when we have lost respect for ourselves and are unsure of who we are becoming, peace waits on the other side.
True peace comes as we discover that we are prone to falling--and that falling gives wonderful practice in the art of getting back up. Trusting the process, believing peace is possible, brings us along into the land of peace."
--Kayla McClurg, "Waiting for the Light," Inward Outward publications, Church of the Savior
The days of late November into the end of December hold a quiet unlike other seasons. Much later in life I realized that spending the end of the year waiting for Santa Clause is an odd rip-off of the spiritual expectancy that is actually right here waiting. Already here in the present moment. There should be a ritual performed when a family decides to no longer do the Santa Clause thing, and in that ritual we would tell the child: it’s a terrible disappointment at first, to realize that all of the presents will eventually break and the year will come when your aunts and uncles and parents stop loading you up with presents. But the good news is, there is something eternal you can cling to and it doesn’t matter what name anybody gives it because it’s always there anyway. It doesn’t change because someone calls it Allah or God or Buddha or The Source. They’re all the same thing.
Kayla McClurg gives us a way in when she writes: “Listening longer than we might prefer, noticing the unexpected, giving up control and the need to know, leaning into the uncertainty and stepping up anyway—these are practices of hope. These are how we wait for the Light." (“Waiting For The Light,” Church of the Savior, www.InwardOutward.org. )
This past weekend I was Buddhafied. I hadn’t sat zazen in more than fifteen years but when I saw this retreat posted on the Cloud Cottage webpage, I felt inwardly called. Ticht Naht Hahn has been in a coma with a brain embolism since Nov. 8, and the weekend of chanting, silence, and meditation was devoted to him. I needed it for me but I trusted that whatever he needed from me he would get through the ethers.
Friday: six PM to nine PM. Saturday: from the pre-dawn dark of six AM all the way through to nine PM when my left knee cap was whining loudly. Sitting. Meditating. Chanting. Nothingness. Emptiness. Fullness. Forcing the body to be still makes the mind come to rest. Certain people began arising in my mind’s eye, particularly my ex-family, my exhusband’s seven siblings, whom I still love but have no contact with. And then certain moments about Corey's passing came up. I won’t describe them here (saving that for the book that this blog is a part of). Apparently, they were scenes that I needed to review but couldn’t look at alone because of the pain involved. But in the dark stillness of my mind after a dozen hours of meditating, meditative walking, and chanting, there they came: the most painful moments of my entire life. The strange thing was, I found myself looking at them with gentleness, as if viewing the scenes through a beautiful window. It was spontaneous healing. The grief is still abides…but the portion of it that felt almost sinister has been extracted from the center of my gut and now lives in the distance, in some field of compassion that I didn’t know existed before.
Thank you Judith Toy for holding this retreat. It was a great honor for me to be the one person who accompanied you through the entire weekend as others came and went. The immersion was much needed and I hope that in giving up some of my suffering, I did a good thing for your beloved Thai.
Learning to Grieve
Let us learn to grieve.