Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beautiful and terrible things

Ah, if only you knew the peace there is in an accepted sorrow.
~Jeanne De la Motte-Guyon

The first time I read this quote, it annoyed me.

It felt just a little too much like being patted on the head and gently chucked under the chin while being told to, "Buck up, little camper!"

But then I couldn't get it out of my head. It just stayed there, whispering to me through the years, as though it really did know something that I didn't.

Now when I read those words, I hear an entirely different voice. I no longer hear the condescending, chiding tone telling me to "get over it" that I once heard. Instead, it is the sound of a gentle friend, patting my knee, offering a glimpse of hope while at the same time still honoring a very real and present pain.

For me, these are the words you think to yourself- while wishing them for someone else- but never saying them out loud. Because if it is too soon, then they will be just what they were for me- annoying. Or worse yet, hurtful.

These are the words you come to when you have reached the other side.

Occasionally, I write about stuff that's a little deeper than my usual fare. I'm always appreciative of my friends and readers who seem to be able to tolerate the whiplash that must come from reading this little blog. Entirely lighthearted stuff mixed in with the heavy can make one a little seasick sometimes, but I'm finding it's hard for me to do otherwise because that's really what life is. It's messy.

This post generated more traffic than anything I have ever written which surprised me as much as anyone. I don't write here with the purpose of developing a large readership. I really just write for me and for the handful of people in my life who seem to enjoy hearing what I have to say (probably because I've always communicated better in writing than in actual speech-go figure). Which is why it was startling to see the number of "hits" on that post go steadily up and up and up, knowing that most of those people reading my words had to be strangers to me. It's an odd feeling.

But what this tells me is that we all secretly crave a certain measure of vulnerability in our lives. I think all of us, at one time or another, have wanted nothing more than the assurance that our feelings and experiences are not completely outside the range of "normal". We all want to know that we are not crazy! 

So, to the extent that I might have been able to offer that assurance of normalcy to other people in the world, strangers or not, I am glad.

The only complication I have in writing about some of my experiences is I fear it can make people think they need to offer me something. That I am seeking condolences or support or sympathy. I felt that after writing "Stay" and it was a little uncomfortable for me because I didn't really intend that to be about myself. It was more of an encouragement for others facing more recent losses and the friends who might be struggling to support them.

This post is ending up even more rambling than usual (which is difficult to do) so let me try to arrive at a point here. This is a poignant week for me. These are days of remembering our babies who both arrived and left too soon, whether I want them to be or not. Even when I try to make it otherwise, my body and my heart force me to remember. I can't explain it, so all I can do is embrace it. I live these days with a heightened awareness of both their presence in my life and their absence. And I know that at the end of this month it will fade again and the memories I carry of them will settle back into a quiet, unobtrusive place in my mind.

That's all true. But what is also true is that I am okay. I don't share these things to garner attention or words of sympathy. I write because I am compelled to and because it seems like every once in awhile something I say actually helps someone else.

And perhaps, a small part of me shares these things in an act of rebellion against a culture that would rather we all keep our more difficult emotions to ourselves. With the exception of ranting about politics or the manufactured social divide of the day, I think we all know we aren't really allowed to be too open about ourselves, right? We are supposed to be fine and busy and just great when people ask how we are.

So, once again, this is me...being a rebel.

But, the truth is- really, truly, for real- I am okay.

There really is peace to be found in an accepted sorrow.

But you gotta travel a long path to get there.

In your own time. In your own way.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid.
~Frederick Buechner

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