Day 9 of 31 Days of Connecting
Thank you all for your encouraging words concerning my recent posts. It’s healing for me to finally write about it – I’m overjoyed that God is using it to heal you as well.
When I began to grieve, I realized quickly that I needed help. Because I had shoved some of my feelings down for well over a decade, I didn’t know how to mourn my losses. Writing them down helped – but it only helped me realize that they were there.
How does one begin to sort through the mess of pain and tears that causes your stomach to ache, your chest to heave, your heart to burn? How does one begin to understanding the feelings of shame, abandonment, and helplessness that comes with grief? How does one begin to see why we feelings like these are good, helpful, or even healing?
When I began to grieve, I turned to a book I had on my shelf for a couple of years, but had never opened. It is called Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp. Within pages, I found hope and confidence that this journey through the depths of heartache was exactly where I needed to be.
I would like to share some of Rupp’s words of wisdom with you, today. I hope that as many of you are seeking healing in your own seasons of mourning this book could become a resource for you, as it is for me:
One author speaks of an “existential loneliness” that permeates every human spirit, a kind of unnamed pain inside, deep within us, a restlessness, an anxiety, a sense of “all aloneness” that calls out to us. I prefer to name it an “existential ache.” It is a persistent longing in us, and it happens because we are human. It is as strongly present in us as autumn is present in the cycle of the seasons. I believe that this ache is within us because we are composed of both physical and spiritual dimensions. Our body belongs to the earth but our spirit does not. Our final home is not here, although “here” is where we are meant to be transformed by treasuring, reverencing and growing through our human journey. No matter how good the “good earth” is, there is always a part of us that is yearning, longing, quietly crying out for the true homeland where life is no longer difficult or unfair.
Every once in a while we get in touch with this truth in us. It is not a sadness exactly, not a hurt or a pain as such, but some tremendously deep voice that cries out in bittersweet agony… It is the autumn in all of us, the truth that life can never stay just as it is.
This inner ache is felt especially when we sense the mystery of life or the supreme uniqueness of who we are. It is present when we recognize the fleetingness of all that we know and all that we cling to upon this good earth. We have a strong longing at this moment to hold onto all of it, and we realize the impossibility of doing so. We seldom put words onto this melancholy. We only dimly sense its presence. But it colors our moods and pervades our activities and weaves its way through our unconscious. It is present in our edginess or in blue days that seem to have no cause. It raises its voice in our inability to concentrate or to feel full satisfcation even when everything in our lives is going smoothly. It makes itself felt when, perhaps just for a brief moment, we recognize our mortality and the swiftness with which time passes…
This loneliness, paradoxically, joins us with all others in their aloneness. There is a great strength and comfort in this. It is only when we are willing to meet the absolute truth of that aloneness within us that we are no longer alone… that we are able to break through to a level of consciousness that assures us of the magnificent bonding that we have with other humans and with God. We begin to see the ache as a natural part of our humanity and of our inner journey… We realize that we are not the only ones who are going home, that we are not the only ones who are still unfinished, that we are not the only ones whose lives calls us to many partings before we are one with the eternal hello…
If we are attentive to the inner ache, and if we grow in accepting its truthful message, then we will more readily move through our own particular goodbyes. We will be more open to the growth of the human journey.
– Joyce Rupp, Praying Our Goodbyes, (Ave Maria Press, 2009) pp 7-9 (italics and bold are my emphasis)
I will continue sharing my journey, tomorrow.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)