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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known …suffering…. and have found their way out of the depths.  (They) have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.”   ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Today I am sharing a poem from a wonderful book I have recently come across that has brought me hope and comfort. It is by Jan Richardson titled, “The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief.”

Though the author wrote this book of blessings during her husband’s illness and subsequent passing, grief can come to us in many forms. Grief over lost dreams, over parts of ourselves that are not loved, the loss of so much of the natural world, the loss of our or a loved one’s physical abilities. Aging. Loss of memory. Loss of a pet.

But if we can stay with our grief until we come through to the other side, what blessings may await?

Construction Site

When we begin to emerge back into the world after grief has struck, we become aware that we cannot emerge alone. A lifeline comes to us from a friend, family member, mother nature, poetry, community.

The time will come when we will tether ourselves to this lifeline and throw the other end out to someone else. So perhaps it is more than a lifeline. It is a web. One we share with all life and offer back to another someday. Weaving together ourselves with all that we love.

This is my reading of the poem, “Construction Site” from a poet found on Twitter @the_librarian1.

Construction Site by CL @the_librarian1 on Twitter

Please have a listen to the poet’s reading. It is absolutely beautiful.

Blessing for Coming Home to an Empty House

I realized that I had not posted much lately. I am in the homerun stretch of graduating from the apprenticeship program at The Guild for Spiritual Guidance, which has carried me through the last two years in community and love. After this Sunday, I will be a graduate and will dive deep into my writing and sharing with you here in this space. I very much look forward to posting more.

In the meantime, I came across this poem by Jan Richardson. I hope it brings you comfort.

Blessing for Coming Home to an Empty House

I know
how every time you return,
you call out
in greeting
to the one
who is not there;
how you lift your voice
not in habit
but in honor
of the absence
so fierce
it has become
its own force.

I know
how the hollow
of the house
echoes in your chest,
how the emptiness
you enter
matches the ache
you carry with you
always.

I know
there are days
when the only thing
more brave than leaving
this house
is coming back to it.

So on those days,
may there be a door
in the emptiness
through which a welcome
waits for you.

On those days,
may you be surprised
by the grace
that gathers itself
within this space.

On those days,
may the delight
that made a home here
find its way to you again,
not merely in memory
but in hope,

so that every word
ever spoken in kindness
circles back to meet you;

so that you may hear
what still sings to you
within these walls;

so that you may know
the love
that dreams with you here
when finally
you give yourself
to rest—

the love
that rises with you,
stubborn like the dawn
that never fails
to come.

—Jan Richardson

The Thing Is

When the darkness of despair

finally gives way

to that small sliver of light,

I pull my eyes upward

toward the source of the light

And inward

to my heart,

knowing the two are connected.

I grab the edge of the light

and I hold tight

And let it bring me back to this indelible world.


Click for the Video of The Thing Is by Ellen Bass

Video of the poem The Thing Is

The Thing Is

BY ELLEN BASS

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

Haiku Poetry of Grief and Gratitude

I have rediscovered Haiku poetry, a Japanese form of short poetry.  In the English language, Haiku is written according to the number of syllables: Three lines with 17 syllables.  5-7-5.  Japanese does not have syllables.  So, Haiku is written in what are durational sound units, sounds of equal duration.  In English, syllables can be of differing duration.  

I think I love Haiku so much for a couple of reasons.  First, because of my analytical side.  The counting of syllables and the effort it takes to fit a moment of life into 17 syllables is very satisfying to this woman whose favorite class in school (way back when) was math.  Many poets of Haiku in English think of this 17-syllable rule as a suggestion, and my older self is just fine with coloring outside the lines.

Second, Haiku helps me to reel in my errant thoughts and focus them like a light beam onto one moment, one object, a simple thing.  This is a type of meditation for me.  It has helped me, especially during these uncertain times. 

Noticing the smallest of things and being grateful for them, however fleeting, is what I attempt to hold in my hands as I walk through life now.

Here are a few Haiku poems focusing on grief and gratitude. I hope you find comfort in them.


Grief

A Japanese Poem Translated by Takashi Kodaira and Alfred H. Marks

At the deepest point

of grief, somebody nearby

breaks a withered branch


by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

In a world

Of grief and pain,

Flowers bloom –

      Even then.


By Rev. Deb Vaughn

Just a single leaf…

One of many in autumn

A tree remembers


By Emily Thiroux Threatt

Remembering joy

Gazing into his brown eyes

We laughed together


by Hannah Spencer

“Not Fair”

How cruel my heart

is!… To persist in beating

although you’re gone…


by Dina Televitskaya

“Smile”

It has flown to me.

And it has given me grief.

It was your sad smile.


by P.S. AWTRY

“Not As Strong As She Seems”

formidable dam

     a breach in the night

          dread torrent of tears


by Paula Goldsmith

“Squirrel Time”

My cute furry friend

Eating nuts until the end

Chasing all your friends


Unknown

Morning fog rolls in

Not as dark as yesterday

         Or the day before


Gratitude

By Diane Yoza

My white coffee cup

So full of aroma

Sips to warm my heart


by David Byrne

“Beauty”

Ah, beauty must die

Impermanent flower

Showing gratitude


by Romeo Naces

“Grateful Sigh”

    …soil, sky and sea sigh

       gratitude from low and high

       we, us, you and I…


by Line Gauthier

“Summer Whispers”

summer whispers

in the garden of my life

  ~ chants of gratitude


by Dietra Reid

Appreciation of Colors”

shades enlightened light

gratitude to primary

secondary thanks


by Suzy @ suzysomedaysomewhere.blogspot.com

Changing seasons drift

A twisting kaleidoscope;

   Life, a Thankful gift