It’s dark. I don’t know where to go.
The edge is everywhere
the child of a dying mother
screams trapped in smoke
stumps of redwoods
Wandering into the veiled forest,
the path disappears.
Was it ever there?
smelling moss, dirt, leaves, needles
the wind is penetrating, relentless
shoulds whisper their distraction
why’s false path leads away
from the Core
“Listen,” says the deer
her eyes call me
to Rumi’s guest house, again
A dear friend shared that his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My heart broke for him in that instant. A flood of sadness, grief and tears has taken up residence in me since then. Everywhere I sense it, and I feel raw and vulnerable, heaviness in every part of me. Familiar feelings. However, I did not give them an invitation. I feel like I need to do something about them.
My head invites me to an intellectual dialogue about this with explanations and reasons:
“You know what it’s like to get news like that, to have your world shattered. To feel scared and helpless.”
Yes, and there’s only so much I can offer and do.
“Another wave of grief has been triggered.”
Ok, now I have to ride this one.
“This is just hormones.”
Should I do something about that?
“You are lonely, without someone to hold you during this.”
Nothing I can do about it right now.
“You shouldn’t be feeling this way, you have so much more than most people.”
Yes, I know.
“When will this be over?”
God, I hope soon.
“What does this all mean? What am I supposed to learn, already?”
The sooner the better, please.
“Maybe it’s all of the above.”
Great, that’s a lot to deal with.
Going over all the thoughts, giving words to all the feelings, processing all the possibilities, holding and pushing away at the same time all seem necessary before settling. Sitting with. Being. Not doing.
In a guided meditation, a friend asked what this place of sadness looked like. A forest, dark, and cold, moss on the trees, soft ground, colors of dark greens, brown, and gray. There are no paths. This place appears neither as an image like a photo nor a movie, but feels similar to when I watch clouds. The clouds seem to stop, there is a stillness, a moment stopped when I initially look at them. But if I am still I sense, and know and see movement.
Being with sadness, grief, confusion, helplessness is hard because I want it to go away. I don’t want to be with them. I want something to happen to change it. I believe if I am strong enough, know enough about myself and am willing to explore all those places to find their origins, then I can heal and won’t feel sad or helpless again. I grasp to that illusion and distract myself from being with the core of these feelings. The core where all of us come from where we are going and where all life is sourced – Love.
Love is messy, crazy, broken, beautiful and whole, containing all. The pain and heartbreak is because of Love, it is part of Love, it is Love.
Showing up, feeling fully, remembering again and again, this whole process of being in this perfectly imperfect human experience is to Love, be Love, give and receive Love.
Rumi’s poem The Guest House invites me show up and greet each feeling, each experience as a guest. Treating them with honor and welcome. Even a “crowd of sorrows who violently sweeps my house empty of all its furniture.” Because ultimately each guest has been, “…sent as a guide from beyond.”
This sadness, grief and even the tears are guides sweeping my house. However, being sent from beyond feels like they are from a place that is unreachable. But that place is reachable. In the darkness, the path may not seem visible because I am looking outward. I must begin inside to the Love that gives sadness and grief its weight, to the Love that infuses my tears, to the Love that causes and is revealed inside my broken heart. The pain, grief, helplessness, even joy and gratitude are all paths returning me to Love.
So, for now, as best as I can, I’ll sit in the forest, allow my rooms to be swept, and trust deeply that in this stillness the movement of Love is guiding me to where and who I am.