Grief-work is draining.
You think you’ve got your hand on the valve, naming the emotions as they come, sorting and categorizing them, giving them their due. And then something comes along and stops up the pipe, impedes the flow, and all those wild emotions start to splutter and spray all over the place. Your carefully controlled flow becomes a torrent.
And then the pipes are cleared out, the weeping and raging is done for a time, and you’re. . .drained.
I had been holding it all so tearlessly, tending my emotional valves, calling it anxiety and simple sadness. And then the governor announced we wouldn’t be going back to school this year, and I was blindsided by the grief. When I started to let myself cry, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop pouring it out, couldn’t stop it gushing forth. I knew I had been experiencing sadness, but I had no idea how it would drown me when I started to give it voice. By day’s end, I felt like I’d experienced a death.
And that brings on the guilt. This is not a death. My losses are small. But this grief is not mine alone, and much of what I hold is grief for all the losses my students are experiencing, for those (mine and others all around the world) who will fall through the cracks, who will have to call on every ounce of their resilience to make it through, those who will be marked by this in lasting and terrible ways.
Were I not me, I would tell me that it’s okay to let yourself feel, to experience the emotions that come, to give voice, to weep, to rage, to break down. I would tell me not to be embarrassed or ashamed for the gushing of words and of pain. I would tell me that it’s necessary to open the valves so they don’t really explode. So I will call yesterday a necessary day, gather myself, tend to the work I left undone in the fog of grieving, mend and build and cleanse.
Today is for tending and mending, for quiet feeling.
1. These humming people. Jon goes about his work at home, humming and singing. Ellis scats along with the music in his headphones. Josiah bounces into a room humming (his two favorites seem to be the guitar riffs from “Seven Nation Army” and “Burn This Whole House Down”).
2. All the goldfinches! Fluttering through the milder winds of yesterday’s scouring, there must have been ten or twelve at the feeder at once, and so many bright ones!
3. I love the way the purple is wearing out of my hair–it’s fading to blue-grey on the ends where I’m greyest. Right now, I could mail order ALL the colors and experiment. It’s not like I’m going out in public any time soon.
4. This Ethiopian coffee a dear young person brought back from her trip home last Christmas. I have been allowed to go back to the classroom to get essential items that I had left behind, and last time I was there, I put this coffee in my box. It’s a connection to that part of my life, and it has a hint of cardamom which gives it mystery, and it tastes soooo delicious.
5. A four-day weekend. I didn’t get much of anything yesterday in the fog of sadness. Now I have catch-up time, and a chance to begin reconfiguring my long-term plans.
Walk in Beauty!
“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” —Hafiz
“The problem is that you think you are separate from others.” —Richard Rohr
“You have to want a thing enough to reach out for it.” —Lailah Gifty Akita
“To wait within the moment for the coming dawn,
To breathe the single breath of all that lives,
To walk the web on which we all belong,
To face the newborn day with love instead of fear.
To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s wind,
To feel Creator’s heartbeat in the world around,
To hear the grace of the Beloved in my neighbor’s voice,
To embrace the sacred space between the past and change.”
“Hope is a dimension of the soul. . .an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. . . .It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” —Vaclav Havel
“When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream.” —William E. Marks
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer