On finding peace in grief and loss...

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My last two posts have generated some response through email and on FaceBook, for which I'm grateful.  Some have written of finding comfort in my words and help with prayer in their own loss and grief.  I'm grateful that what I've shared has touched others.

Our losses take many forms, as does our grief.  

What a mystery is this: that my heart can hold loss and hope, grief and peace, tears and courage, defeat and faith - all in the same moment...

A blogger friend, posting on the scriptures for this coming weekend, has included some poetry on grief that I've found helpful and perhaps others will, too.

Here are two pieces taken from John O'Donohue's book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A book of blessings, followed by a third which is my own work.

For the Interim Time
by John O'Donohue

When near the end of the day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.

In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of dark.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.

The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

For Grief
by John O'Donohue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time. 

And here's a poem I wrote over 4 years ago that comes to mind today.

A Solitary Tear
by Austin Fleming
Do you feel the tear I see
move slowly down a crevice
worn by grief
upon your cheek?

Now it stops,
too tired to move on,
one sorrowed drop welled up
from springs of empty ache,

a solitary tear
slowed, stalled,
no place to go;
no sweet hand to wipe away

the dew that slowly seeps
from deep inside
where pain pools
and spills

your hidden secret:
a parched heart's thirst
for a sip
of love now lost.

And from yesterday's post on daily Lenten prayer:
Let grief not become my home, Lord,
but rather let it be my path to hope,
the road of trust I need to travel
to make my way from sorrow to tomorrow,
from despair to confidence,
from loneliness to love refreshed by your Spirit...



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