The breath and belly of it all….

weeping

Winter rolls into Spring and my heart rides the growing waves
that lift and toss and throw me sometimes further out
as I begin to set my hope on a door that slowly opens,
then closes sudden and an undertow sweeps me into a tailspin
and I’m struggling breathless and unable to work my wings
and here is where I learn at last to fly,
because it’s sometimes into the jaws of a strong wind
that we get our bearings because we’re ready to dig in
and maybe this is the gift in going down and out

I do the work with a gifted grief counselor – she’s a bird on a breeze
with a gentle way and healing words that call to me through the dark
and she sings a song of paradox and the eyes of my heart soften into the  hope
that doesn’t disappoint and it’s a strong tow out of fearful waters.
Because when life hurts it isn’t black or white – there’s and and both to all deep pain.
The sad and scared and mad of grief are real and but that’s only one side
and if we try to survive with just that one wing flapping helpless
we tank,  unsteady,  and helter-skelter from the sky where we were born to soar
because we need both wings set to be fully alive.

As I become less dropsy at holding paradox,
keeping journal where I puddle my hurt onto the left page and record beauty and thanks
on the right – side by side together like a perfect pair of wings,
I begin to toddle this grief out,  a fledgling,
learning to hold the full of my pain and the joy,
my love and the disappointment,  the comfort and the hurt
because there’s medicine in embracing the breath and belly of it all.

And,  yes,  showing up can expose a heart for the breaking
but I want a love that doesn’t shy or go false,
to feel it when the Comforter whispers let me hold your hand
and not draw back or slap it away
but take deep drinks of compassion offered and continue to stand,
loved and wanted by a mystery so beautiful and grand
that I lean wholehearted into the turns,  more curious than perplexed or in dread.

Because life is happening bodacious and I don’t want to miss it or be passed by
because I’m holding on tight to one version of happy
when there are a million shades
and seeing narrow makes a chest fold over bitter on itself
while healing breezes kiss a heart stretched wide.

And it helps to have a caring hand to help untie the knots
of what’s true and what’s not.

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~ The humiliation? – no.
Dig deep and don’t personalize this.

~ The shame? – hell no.  The brazen way it twists and mimics
and tries to impersonate the voice of God,
lying boldfaced that this generous goodness is harsh – Defy it.

~ the Heartbreak?  Yes. Be unapologetic about it.
The hurt is real.  Cry it out with someone safe.

~ The other painful parts of grief like anger and anxiety and sadness and loss?
Yes. Acknowledge. Feel it all.
Go there with all the help that you need.  But don’t live there.
With this wing alone,  we stay cut off from the sky.

Stretch wide the other wing as well.
There are gifts in grief,  and as I begin to unwrap them,
I see windows where before I saw only walls.

Some of the sweetest gifts,  for me,  have been learning to show up and do my best
but not more than my best,  because that’s stepping into someone else’s space.
That hardening the heart does not stop the hurt.
That a soft heart heals faster.
To not waste the pain,  because pain itself is gift.
It means you care deeply about something,  and if you’re willing to go along for the ride,
it can lead you to discover your deepest desires.

Holding paradox is sanity,
and humility
and flight.

I was going to end by telling you that I haven’t heard again from my baby girl grown
and that this road I’ve traveled to learn to hold the pain and disappointment,
alongside the joy and love and peace of letting go,
is one that I’m learning to cherish and carry
with a strong and honest hope
– it’s the story that I’ve been living.

But I get to write a different ending this week.

Because I did hear back.
Just days ago.
So beautiful and true and I will hold her trust with the tenderest care.
It’s pure gift,  sweet and sacred and unspeakably dear
but there’s nothing in me that feels any longer desperate,
like this is needed for repair
and so I can celebrate the timing of it all
because this is maybe gift-wrapped,  too:)

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Your words have been balm and bread and broad strokes of grace,
finding me where my eyes were squeezed shut
to what a face may silently say,
speaking life and friendship and a healing song
that the girl of me needed to hear.
I hope we’ve been good for each other that way.
Thank you.  With love.  From the whole of my heart.

“Limitless, undying love which shines around me like a million suns
it calls me on and on across the universe.
– John Lennon

If you’re interested in some of the tools I’ve been using
in your own journey,

to help grieve it out and get stretched wide your wings,
i so recommend this DVD series by Mandy Bird and her collaborator,  Chris Saade.
A tall glass of comfort and hope,  this.

Like someplace made of sky…..

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August rolling in under stormy skies
and my heart pounding hard on the keys,
singing songs I’ve never heard before
while strong winds blowing in some cool change
and I need to pull thanks around me snug
to keep out the chill
because I’m unnerved
and gratitude has the potent power to steady
where we tremble.

I want to be curious in the places where I shy,
to be open to the mystery of the messy in-betweens
and so I fling ebullient thanks for summer soup growing wild,
for blossom to apples,  tender sprouts to pickles in a jar,
and baby bump to laughing child,

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to lean into it grateful
the hope I hold inside
for a roominess of life
that feels like somewhere made of sky

Now can be delicious,
and it’s what I’ve got,
a rich full slice of it to notice and nuzzle.

And what’s around the riverbend that we can’t dare to see?
…. it may be startling goodness
we wouldn’t ask or dream.

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“If you don’t die from thirst,  there are blessings in the desert.
You can be pulled into limitlessness,  which we all yearn for,
or you can do the beauty of minutia,  the scrimshaw of tiny and precise.
The sky is your ocean,  and the crystal silence will uplift
like great gospel music,  or Neil Young.”
-Anne Lamott