“All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly as possible and as privately. But what I’ve discovered is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief. The passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.” Anne Lamott
Spring is unfurling promises of new life and hope. But as we stumble bleary-eyed out of this strange painful season, it’s important to acknowledge the grief that lingers; the people who will never sit at our table again, the dreams that have faded, the anxiety that will be a part of us much longer than we expected because of the brokenness we’ve experienced.
In times like this bittersweet spring, of wistful uncertain hope, I look to my patron saint of suffering, Anne Lamott. Over the years she’s helped me breathe into the pain, she calls grief the ugly baby that none of us know how to describe. Her gentle honesty gives me permission to lean into the sad, tired, empty days and find rest. Spring is a balm but not a remedy, just the promise that beauty will grow again, the sun will rise and maybe tomorrow they’ll be laughter, but maybe not, and that’s ok.
A friend recently returned my copy of Traveling Mercies and so it was at the top of my stack of books for weary days. I turned to it this morning and found my underlined passages carved there over twenty years ago that still washes over my soul with tender care. I don’t know who needs to hear this today–but you are not alone. Many of us carry stiff souls, bruised hearts, raggedy spirits, and limp into spring broken and busted. But hope survives the pain of grief, it doesn’t need us to protect it or defend it. Today we can weep, and sigh and simply long for things to be different. As we permit ourselves to be human we find the raw, wrung-out peace.
“San Francisco is a city in grief, we are a world in grief, and it is all at once intolerable and a great opportunity. I’m pretty sure that it is only by experiencing that ocean of sand in a naked and immediate way that we come to be healed–which is to say that we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.” Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies.
For more of my journey through grief: A Wailing Over Us–previously published in Fathom Magazine
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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
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