This morning I watched an eagle come what felt unbelievably close and before I knew what was happening it swooped down and clasped a duck within its talons. The cry in the outcome of that swoop broke open my heart and words came out. This is a follow up to my last post in which I wrote that it is impossible to be fully present in joy, until we have been fully present in pain.

Quick note: here’s a pic of the river this morning. Bright & clear again. Amazing. See pic from earlier this week here.

I know this brings up thoughts and questions. What does it mean, what does it look to be present in pain? How do we survive that? And wouldn’t presence suggest more than survival anyways?

Yes. Presence changes everything. Our minds are marvelous in their ability to carry us through the storms of life, offering us certain hope of landing safely upon shores where we can stand on solid ground again. Yes, it says, we can survive, if only we...

If only we…what? What does your mind tell you in at your greatest points of pain? For some of us it is a promise of safety if only we’ll be quiet, for others shelter comes as payoff for being loud or witty or funny enough to not get left behind. Which mental savior is telling the truth?

In a way, they all are as they temporarily (even if superficially) usher us to shores removed from the depths that feel like certain destruction. And, in a way, none are.

If loss is a certain part of life, one way or another, perhaps our questions would help us more if they shift not from how to survive but how to see, how to listen?

Out of mourning comes myriad things, even deceit of self is possible in the place of pain, as a means of survival. Yet, this is not because we are deceitful, we are however unpracticed in knowing how to…

“Guard over your heart with all diligence, because from it flow the springs of life.” -Proverbs 4:23

It is upon learning how to listen to deeper places within us, and one another, to the spark of the Spirit we are born of, to consider what we are believing about our circumstances and what they are, in a real sense, reporting to us that we begin to move out of survival mode and into Presence.

But in becoming more present, most especially to ourselves when we are in pain, we find there a Source of strength—it is as though we are returning to our moment of birth, a genesis that was Authored. We find we are not alone, and just like that we are born again. Just like that we are beholding miracle, we are filled with awe, we are home. We discover joy is not so far away from pain as we thought it was.

As much as this is possible on a solo mountain hike or the bathroom floor after midnight or the kitchen sink in broad daylight it is also true that having helpers come alongside us who have not only survived but become present within their own stories and sagas is of worth no scale could measure. For a certain amount of time in life, for many of us a long time, we have no lens but our own. We have no perspective but our own.

When we choose companions who have different stories and different lenses for us to try on we are given a gift of lift and light. By nature fellow trail mates who live on the other side of the geography we find ourselves in invite us to renewed perspectives. Having trusted souls to share life with at times could be likened to having a friend with a helicopter or private jet, inviting us up and out of our only view, inviting us into the wonder of the aerial panorama we had no way of observing on our own.

Is it painful, mundane in process, daily work? Yes. Is it wonder waiting for us? Also, yes.

In life there is pain that leads to destruction and there is pain that builds us. We have all been wounded from the sharp words that sound like wisdom, the limiting belief that says,  “If I am in pain I cannot do/be _____” There are times for recognizing our limits, for taking the shelter that our amazing minds can offer us, and there are times for taking a hand (even our own) that would allow us a view we cannot attain on our own in order to rejoin and be united within ourselves, stronger than we ever were before.

This does not deliver us to the other side of our painful circumstances, it gives rise, an upward strength within our circumstances, even our mourning. Presence brings beauty out of suffering, out of mourning, not necessarily after. We have no such promises as those.

I know this brings up thoughts and questions, it does and has and will continue to inside of me too. In the brightest moments though, and often with the help of others, I remember the design placed within the woman’s body—how it is through labor and pain that new life comes into the world. (It will not always be so, but today it is.) And, life not only through pain but from the most intimate and hidden places of the woman.

So many of you are hidden there in your own wildernesses of loss, regret, and too much pain. It’s too much. I hope by writing to you, in a sense, to travel to you there and speak to you spirit to spirit. Please do not tell yourself,  “If I am in pain I cannot do/be ____.” Rather, tell yourself and perhaps even hear me, there with you, tell you this: great transformation comes through pain.

Some of the greatest and most deeply desired transformations of your life, can only come through pain.

Presence, being still and knowing, Truth, Light, Love changes everything and is here with us all, now.

There was a time when the saying
“What I resist, persists” was like a stone in my shoe
unforgettable but not exactly helpful
Well, not for awhile
I finally found a use for that stone
I placed it around the memorial I built
my sepulcher
The day I finally knew there is no resurrection
without death
The day I etched my epitaph
What I embrace, makes space
The day I died
The day I was born

-From me to you today

This is one story given us in the holy days that surround us now, Pesach (Passover) and Resurrection Day. This is one story in the morning when the sun rises again. I am learning it better as I live each day and write about it to you and am eager to learn more, with you…

Thanks for being here. I just wrote a lot about a lot, if it would serve you in any way to receive some journal/conversation prompts I use in my own life as tools and a means of seeing/listening/praying and engaging with these ideas in practical, rubber-meets-the-road ways, please send me an email and I will happily send you some.

Love and Happy Resurrection Day to you and yours,

I’m Raynna, a writing, photograph-taking, qigong-practicing, homeschooling-mama-of-six exploring the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and me, writing to you here because you’re not alone.  Subscribe to receive updates directly in your inbox.