How does destruction happen among those born with the instinct not to be destroyed? No one is born wanting to die, wanting loss, wanting pain, and yet we are surrounded by all of these things.
To take it even further and maybe even more personal? Have you ever known someone who once helped you see yourself and then their vision left, they left? It’s as frightening as it is devastating. Unavoidable questions serving as the proverbial salt in the wound haunt and hang. Maybe we never really knew that person? Maybe their vision of us was what they wanted and then we did too?
Maybe when it becomes clear how unsustainable these sorts of scenarios are things have to crumble? The answers as much as the non-answers to these questions are a whole other level of pain that compound the ache of the goodbye which never truly gets to be said, not fully, not eye-to-eye.
Further, if we loved a false kindred, if we too built an image of only what we thought we knew or we find we’ve become one ourselves, then who is to blame? And what does the blaming really help? Farther still, what does it hurt? With so many questions left unanswered how do we even know in what direction of the wind to release our anger? Anger, a necessary emotion at times!
However, what if all the questions lead us not to pity and not only to pain, but past them both? What if they lead us to seeing ourself? What if we finally figure out that our anger belongs in all four corners of the earth, if that’s where we are and injustice has occurred? What if we find a compassion well within us that we’ve never known because we allowed for our own humanity, and that gives freedom to let others be human too?
Oh, the loss so many of you have endured burns inside of me. I want to be mad that I know it’s often the right thing for us to endure these things, because it all feels so wrong. I want to be mad that I would have need to write these words for myself as well, and that this has everything to do with my own pain, pity, humanity—freedoms found at terrible prices. Yet, the realization of the graciousness to be alive this moment at all is wrapped into all of this inside my one bursting heart! And still nothing…it seems…nothing can speak to these things, but I know I must try.
I must try because I see glimpses of light when I sit down on the forest floor and I lift my eyes and watch the trees breathing all around me whispering something I do not yet know how to discern. I spy secrets falling from the sky when the wind blows heartily through the ash trees in the autumn and we see all the leaves spiraling down the way the ash-from-the-fires fell this summer. What is their secret?
If I dare even to try to speak it I would tell you that I believe there’s always the good. Always. Somewhere. Yes, there’s always the bad. But how dearly more than eyes for that do we need to see how there’s always the counterfeit (of the good)… like ash leaves from ash trees verses the way ash leaves the laid-waste-from-fire trees…both a loss. Yes, I instruct my soul, loss must come. But maybe, maybe even in loss there is a good way, a time, a beauty.
Some days I am bent over in prayer asking for the excess within me to be removed, learning how to release all that I know (and don’t know). Some days I find a more gentle way and learn that too is a prayer. There are moments I want what feels “bad and too much” all torn from me, but then I remember how I’ve barely survived such a process as that in the past and so I’ve asked to be a gentle soul, to understand gentle ways, one that knows how to release in the right time, and hold loosely but closely as needed in others.
I found it is possible to believe there is rightly a time for everything under heaven and still grieve it. I do not love this tension and I know in my own wisdom I would not make it so.
So many tears.
I often want to blame, and if not that then take the path of shame and self-pity. Instead of these things, I want to learn the path of a seeker. I want to be willing to find the answers I’m afraid to find. If my insulation of blame and/or shame falls away and I see, really *see* the raw reality of men and women thus responsible for the state of our inner worlds (of which I am one) I echo HaShem’s lament, “I cannot find for me a man!!” and woe is 👉🏻me.
I am utterly unsatisfied with these conclusions because it brings me right back to the questions I live all of this life I’ve known so far with, “How?” How do we live alive here? Why does it have to be the way it is? I am torn in my deepest places. I am filled with grief. Surrounded by ash.
I want to be mad about that too, but then I get caught in the cloud of glory (kavod, in Hebrew), yes, the weight of wonder of it all again, and I weep for all that I just. do. not. know.
The heaviness (kavod) surrounds us and I realize we are invited to live and love well, within this tension and,…I DON’T KNOW HOW. None of us do the way we could tomorrow, but we’re still here today and tomorrow will be built upon that today.
We need each other. We need to hold on to each other, to learn how to let go, in the good, true and beautiful kind of ways…not the counterfeit. I know this is true and yet still nothing…it seems…nothing can speak to these things, but I know I must try.
I must try because I see glimpses of light in my friend’s eyes seeing me, and my children’s embrace when they’ve missed me. I spy secrets falling from the sky when the wind blows heartily through the ash trees in the autumn and we see all the leaves spiraling down the way the ash-from-the-fires fell this summer. What is their secret?
I look much to Creator’s creation to learn the way forward. I’m watching now in the rainy season of the PNW how the rains nourish and bring softening to the earth, something beyond itself. Sometimes we feel responsible for everything. In truth we deeply need to receive nourishment to learn how to give the nourishment we so badly want to be equipped to give out of.
If we got to go for a walk together today I’d ask you, “What do you need most right now?” Is there a friend that you can ask that of today, and ask them to ask you too? …to receive a nourishment beyond yourself… knowing it doesn’t all depend upon you. How could it when every moment of our day we are living and breathing within gift?
Practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry
Practicing with you,
P.S. I want tell you about one of my most special teachers, Keren Hannah Pryor. I want to share with you and recommend her first book, A Taste of Torah, written several years ago but still remaining a wonderful and profound resource that has influenced me deeply. It is a gentle guide with bite size portions as you study the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
As always, thank you for being here, for reading, for sharing, for leaving me comments. I am grateful! If you’re new and this feels like a place to relax a bit you can subscribe here.
All photos copyright Raynna Myers 2020