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Posts Tagged ‘sorrow’

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All Saints (c) Jan Richardson

 

This guest blog from Jan Richardson comes to you on November 1, All Saints Day celebrated in the Catholic Church. This year I have “lost” dear family and friends, more than I want to count. I am aware of the “thin veil” as I have been visited by many of them in my dreams and have even heard them speak. We are Eternal Beings. This I now know and continue to believe. Still, I am jealous of the thin veil and it is not enough for me to know they are “still here.”  I grieve the losses of my friends’ of their spouses and siblings and being in this “of a certain age” category, the expectation that these losses will diminish has all but vanished. Acceptance is hard in coming. Prayer is centering. But wishful thinking continues and memories float through my awareness like a familiar drive-through order.

Peace Be.
Napkinwriter

 

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
—Luke 20:38

I have long loved this trinity of days of October 31, November 1, and November 2: Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Souls. For many years these days have been for me a threshold time—what the Celtic tradition calls a thin place, where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. I learned long ago that this thin place is a time for paying attention, for listening at the threshold, for noticing what door seems to be opening and inviting me to walk through.

It seemed fitting that Gary and I began dating on Halloween, that the roots of our relationship go deep into these thin, in-between, meeting-of-worlds days. As I continue to navigate this path in the wake of his dying, it comes as a comfort to remember the message of the Feast of All Saints: that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in relationship with one another. The separation that causes us such pain in this life does not sever the bonds of community.

As we move through these days, I want to share a blessing I wrote three years ago, the last time this reading from Luke 20 came up in the lectionary. When I wrote the blessing, I had no idea how much I would need it for myself, and how soon. Just a week after I posted it, Gary had the surgery that, so unexpectedly, would bear him away from us.

In these days, may the veil be thin for each of us. May we know the blessing of those who are gone from this life but who breathe with us still, and may we know the grace of the God who breathes life into us all. Deep peace to you.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
still,
forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

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It’s time to hear from Jan Phillips again. It is hard to catch up with her these days. She has been on the road constantly with her creativity, message and love across the country.

I was looking for some seed ideas to pour forth into my current creative project and this is one of her phrases that took rest in my heart: …”Me falling into this featherbed of forgetfullness,…” from Jan.

So here is a short section of her poetry and prose I am offering from her latest, best-selling book,  No Ordinary Time, the Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity, pages 74-75.

“To create is to make something whole from the pieces of our lives, and in the process, to become more whole ourselves. It is a healing act, a leave-taking from the chaos as we move from the choppy surface toward the stillness of the center. What was the last thing you created? What pieces were you putting together? Was it healing?”

(Yes, for Sue, it was healing. For in my doing of this one small piece of creation, that very act simply let me know I had not forsaken the completion of the whole project that has had a long standing calling in my soul).

It would not become, as the lyrics of one of Anne Murray’s songs said: …. “before the children of my mind become the orphans of my soul.” This creative child work will be born whole at some future date.  

“Into your hands, I commend my failures,
my rash judgments, my criticisms,
my proneness for separation,
my harsh opinions.
Into the bowl of your cosmic lap
I heave my ten thousand undigested sorrows,
my tempests of thoughtlessness,
my ramblings of misery, chaos, lonliness.

Lies, lies all of them!

Me falling into this featherbed of forgetfullness:
Oh, what a sight!
Remove all mirrors when I flail like this,
when I become a lost one
wandering in the dark.

“Imagine that when we’re born, each one of us comes to earth with the radiance of, say a hundred watt bulb. That’s our natural state — 100 watts. As we go through life, our job is to maintain that brightness, and even improve it if we can. What dims it, we learn through experience, is negativity, anger, resentments, regrets. What brightens it is harmony, balance, joy.”  (Jan Phillips)

I fly on these words of Jan to the upstairs bedroom in the old Wisconsin farmhouse where, as a young grandchild, I enjoyed all the gifts a real featherbed had to give.

And reflecting on Jan’s words,  I think the image of a featherbed of forgetfullness is a great place for my negativity, anger, resentments, regrets to fall…..For my drama to be swallowed up… for my chaos to disappear…for my ramblings to be drown out…for my undigested sorrows to take flight and leave me….for my thoughtlessness to be converted by the softness of the feather quills…. for my lonliness to fall through the depths and width of the feather filling….and for my misery to vanish in the feathery, forgiving down that accepts and molds to my body’s form.

Be gone, all you lies and in the morning I will replace you with a new dawn of harmony, balance and joy.  Let me arise with true love for myself and for others as is the Will of the Divine. Let me think like the 100 watt bulb and experience the radiance of it. Let me speak the words of good I want fulfilled in my life and the good I want to see created in the world.

 I am lucky enough to know, in child-like fashion, the sensual loveliness the feather bed provides. What an open invitation it held for a child at night, weary from the day’s field-roaming adventures. What a playground, it was as though fluffy while Cumulus clouds were my playmates as I sprang about it.

It is nice to think of a feather bed wiping away all the ill-effects and results of forgetting who I truly am — the results of feeling lonely, critical, confused, judgmental, miserable and sorrowful — just as easily as it accepted and comforted me, the small child.

I can lay these defects of character down gently, or even with the celebration of a big leap, landing right in the middle of them, knowing that I can awaken  and remember — in any new moment —  the Truth of who I really am.

That’s putting the pieces together. That’s healing.

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