Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Let there be light ...


There is always a glimmer in those
who have been through the dark.


Hello everyone - greetings of light-in-the-darkness to you all!

I would not have believed Atticus' ancient words in the dark, depleted days following years of family caregiving, the death of my husband, my mother's death 3 months later and all the mind-numbing tasks that inevitably follow the death of loved ones. I had given more than I had to give and was utterly spent. For months after the first rounds of bereavement tasks were complete, I did little more than sit in a chair by the window and breathe. And even that was an effort some days.

It was close to a year and a half before I regained sufficient physical strength to engage my grief in a meaningful way. And, to be quite honest, there were many days when I wished I had died, too, I felt so bereft and had so little life force left to fuel my living.

Some would have said I was depressed but, in fact, I was exhausted, grieving and traumatized. But, deep within me, invisible to the naked eye, healing was already beginning to take place. First came the s-l-o-w restoration of physical strength wrought by weeks and months of simple rest, good nutrition and short daily walks. (Though those initial "walks" comprised nothing more than a few steps to the front door where I stood on the porch with my face to the rain.)

Then, in the long silent hours of sitting by the livingroom window, staring at the garden, came quiet opportunities to re-connect with my Self, my memories, my feelings and the many sources of strength greater than my own - the healing rhythms of nature, the beauty outside my window, the wisdom gleaned from poetry and prose and a deep spiritual connection with Mystery. As my energy rose sufficiently to reconnect with people, the love of cherished relationships, old and new, sustained me through new choices in life and vocation. The glimmer that had desperately endured the darkness was fanned to a new brightness by my willingness to let healing take as long as it took and to accept the loving support of family and friends.

For some of you, 2020, (this strange, COVID, "year-out-of-time"), is ending in a similar state of grief, trauma and depletion.  You are full of unexpressed pain and sorrow and have not an ounce of strength left to give.  It feels like there is nothing left of you or in you. But please don't allow that to be your truth for long. Choose, instead, to gently and persistently fan the flame of your own life force.  Seek the things that have renewed you in the past and allow them to do it once more - even in the smallest "doses" and most unusual ways, given COVID's limitations.

As Atticus knew, way back in second century Rome, there is a tiny glimmer left in all of us who have been through the darkness, be that darkness the countering of COVID's grim effects, the fearfulness of not being able to work, the anxiety of becoming ill yourself or the exhaustion of caring for loved ones at home who were already ill or injured before the pandemic. This remaining glimmer can be buried so deeply that it seems all but lost - but it IS still there. And, with gentle fanning and exquisitely tender nurturing, it can break into flame and give light once more - first to yourself and then to the world around you.

When you do choose to heal, you may find you have sufficient energy to fan your own flame but, more likely, you will need some help. So, please do ask for that help. Even if it's hard at first. (You may have noticed that we nurturers are not always great at asking for nurturing, ourselves.) There will always be others who have walked the healing path before you who are willing and able to help you find your way.  Keep looking until you find the right ones for you - supportive friends, somatic therapists, spiritual advisors, meditation leaders, support groups and others. This care and support will make all the difference.

Festivals of light across cultures - Diwahli, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and others - remind us that there IS light in and after the darkness and that it can be fanned to a new intensity with time, care and exquisite attention. 

So, at this particularly dark moment in time, for each of us individually, and as a wider community, "Let there be light ...".