anne.lamott.does.it.again

i have read this book before.  when i asked for it for my birthday, i had no idea how badly i needed it.  i didn’t even expect to receive it, much less pick it up right away when i did.  i had forgotten how anne has this way of making you feel like you and your neurosis are in the room with her and her neurosis and together you are all having a cup of chai tea while watching the rain pour down the windows.  i need someone to be as neurotic as i am right now.  i need someone to say “our fears are the same”, and then hug me while we cry at our lack of courage.

and then, as i was reading last night, i came across a passage that i had forgotten about. and i don’t mean forgotten in the same way i did above, where i had simply lost track of the comfort i have when i read her words.  i mean forgot.  as in, didn’t know it was in the book.  when i read it, i cried, because i couldn’t say what she said.  and i have been trying for months.

All those years a lot of us fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible, and as privately. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place, and that grieving alone heals grief. The passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone will not heal it…  

I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing it, that ocean of sadness, in a naked and immediate way, that we come to be healed, which is to say, come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.

Grief, as someone wrote, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and then stops at loud and rageful, and the next it is wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence. 

… Jung said, some time after his beloved wife died, “It cost me a great deal to regain my footing. Now I am free to become who I truly am.” And this is God’s own truth: The more often I cried in my room… the more often I started having occasional moments of utter joy, of feeling aware of each moment shining for the utter moment of it. Little by little, pale and swollen around the eyes, I even began to feel a strange acceptance [of my loss].

I would begin to feel that I was becoming so holy and serene that I was probably going to end up dating the Dalai Lama. And then the rage and craziness would hit again, and I would be Winnie Ruth Judd. The depth of the feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but it didn’t wash me away. Instead, it was like an inside shower, or like giving a dry garden a good watering. Don’t get me wrong, though: Grief sucks; it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit. So at first it seems that you’re doomed no matter how you cut. But then you cry and writhe and yell and cry some more; and then, finally, grief ends up being about the two best things: softness and illumination.

“softness and illumination” combined with “rage and craziness.”  that makes sense.  for two months i have been trying to reconcile the two… and here she is saying that they will ultimately reconcile themselves.  

so for now, i wait and i ask for help when i need it and i accept the peace and the rage and the crazy and the serenity all when it comes.  and i choose to stop bucking against these feelings and rest in God’s arms.  i am still grieving the loss of my son.  and to skip a step, like she says at first, will simply prolong my journey. because it is as true for me as it was for Jung that as i grieve, i am regaining my footing and becoming free to become (in a small and different way than losing a spouse or living friend) who i really am.  i am not my loss, i am not my children or my husband, i am not my knitting, i am not my digital scrapbooking, or my favorite books…

i am God’s child, whole and pure in His forgiveness, and that is all i ever need to be. 

 

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~ by Erin on 18 April, 2008.

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