"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I was furious Monday when the snow started. Knowing there was nothing to do with my fury that would change the weather didn't help. It felt like a huge and very personal last straw and I'd had it.

But it turns out the anger burned away the last of my waiting for the outside season to change in hopes my inner weather would change as well. While the winter has more often than not reflected the journey of my grieving these last months, it is not my grief. It's not in charge of my grief.

It's a trap I fall into often: I know the outcome I want, and decide it would be much less messy if I could just skip all the parts from here to there. No matter how profound my understanding of the need for and power of process, or how often I experience the magic of a cycle completed, I find myself still deciding it's okay to skip ahead. Or just to wait out whatever discomfort I find myself in until a season passes and something new arrives.

Perhaps the hardest lesson I've had to learn lately is that no matter how careful I am, no matter how perfectly I follow the rules, no matter how patient I am - my soul has its own agenda, and life does, too.

On March 20, Kathleen will still be gone. My heart will still be broken. Spring will arrive with its warm days and abundant light, its vibrant colors and new life. I will embrace it, revel in it, roll around in the moist fertile soil of it (metaphorically anyway). Yet some part of me will still be winter, and I'm beginning to understand may always be.

As has so often been the case on the dark days, when I most need it, someone will offer me the blessing of just the right words and a corner of a warm heart to rest myself in. Often it's been here in the comments of my virtual friends. Often it's been in the gentle persistent presence and concern of flesh and blood family and friends. And every now and then God's voice comes to me in the form of a poem.

The one I'm about to copy below came from a newsletter I receive regularly, which is in itself a great source of blessing. I'm reading it at least once a day, and it helps. I offer it to all of you here, that you might be blessed in  your own lives and troubles and broken hearts by its message.

John O’Donahue
On the day
when the weight deadens

on your shoulders
and you stumble,

may the clay dance

to balance you. 

And when your eyes

freeze behind

the grey window

and the ghost of loss

gets in to you,

may a flock of colors,

indigo, red, green

and azure blue

come to awaken in you

a meadow of delight. 

When the canvas frays

in the curach (boat) of thought

and a stain of ocean

blackens beneath you,

may there come across the waters

a path of yellow moonlight

to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

may the clarity of light be yours,

may the fluency of the ocean be yours,

may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow

wind work these words

of love around you, 

an invisible cloak

to mind your life.

Photo by Walt


Linda Myers said...

Oh, my. What a beautiful, beautiful poem.

Terri Tiffany said...

I pray that spring will arrive sooner than you expect and with it a bundle of blessings:))

yaya said...

Beautiful poem and comforting words Deb. I wish you could meet my Sister. Her blog is on my sidebar...2yayas...she lost her son in 2004 and has had her journey in this life forever altered. I see it in her eyes at every family function that my nephew should be at, every new grandchild birth that he will never have, every season that he is not there to share with her. She, like you, has strength that is drawn up from some place I can't even imagine. He passed in Winter..and it didn't seem right that Spring came anyway. But with that Spring came hope that we will all find each other again and the reunion will be sweet.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Have missed you, Deb, and am thinking of you. Love across the miles.

DJan said...

Loss doesn't ever heal, it just turns into something else, something that allows us to endure. I won't ever forget my son, but since it's been almost nine years, the pain has receded and the fun memories have come to the fore. It's the same with my mom, too.

Poems like this are such a blessing. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Stacy said...

Love the poem. Thanks for sharing. There is such a healing power to the earth how seasons, colors, smells can give us such peace and hope.

Wanda said...

Your post reminded me of this story I saw on Paulo Coelho's blog:

A very wealthy man asked a Zen master for a text which would always remind him how happy he was with his family.

The Zen master took some parchment and, in beautiful calligraphy, wrote:

– The father dies. The son dies. The grandson dies.

– What? – said the furious rich man. – I asked you for something to inspire me, some teaching which might be respectfully contemplated by future generations, and you give me something as depressing and gloomy as these words?

– You asked me for something which would remind you of the happiness of living together with your family. If your son dies first, everyone will be devastated by the pain. If your grandson dies, it would be an unbearable experience.

“However, if your family disappears in the order which I placed on the paper, this is the natural course of life. Thus, although we all endure moments of pain, the generations will continue, and your legacy will be long-lasting.”

What happened in your life is not the natural order. Of course, a part of you will always feel winter. It is the way when the natural order is disturbed.

May you find peace, my friend.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem.

I'm in the middle of my winter of discontent as well, grieving all the losses from the last couple of years, feeling like a part of me is dying. And I suppose it is, the old me is dying.

I've always found the hardest part of people dying is the fact that life goes on, apparently oblivious of our pain. And it is a reminder that one day I too will die and that life will simply continue on without me.

Sending a big hug. It just hurts.

Sally Wessely said...

The poem is beautiful. You know that I can relate on a deep level to all you feel. At times, I am amazed the way small things whisper healing in such loud and profound ways.

#1Nana said...

The part that is causing me to think is the idea of needing to follow the process and not skip steps. I struggle with the same issue. I'm impatient. I want to move on. Just tell me the steps I need to do and I'll whip through them and get to the next level. Are you sure that we can't skip steps? I obviously haven't learned this lesson yet!

Desiree said...

Being a new brand new reader of your blog (just days old), I have a lot of catching up to do. I am so sorry to hear you are grieving for your daughter! You have expressed your pain so eloquently here and the poem you have shared, along with the story of one of your readers, is profound.

I follow another wonderful blogger, Gina @antique-art-garden. She, too, lost her daughter (21 years old), tragically (motor accident), last year (July 2010)and...is battling with the arrival of spring.

Take care!


Des xo

Leslie at SugarAndSpiceADK. said...

SO printing that one out, Deb! Beautiful, just beautiful!

Midge said...

You don't know me, but I know your pain. My son passed away 7 years ago, but at times it still feels like yesterday. He was a gift and I will always remember on his one year anniversary I promised him I would not cry and dampen the wings he worked so hard to acquire. I rejoice in the hope and knowledge that I will see him again...for which he has a lot of explaining to do...but I love him always and thank God for the time he trusted him with me and I gave back with love and undying gratitude. I am sorry for your loss but know always that your daughter surrounds you even if you don't see her. It may be a breeze, a smell, a thought or a memory that keeps her beside you and for that we all have the strength to then take one more step forward.

Niki said...

...may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue 
come to awaken in you
 a meadow of delight...

I love these words, and they are the ones to embrace.

Hugs to you my dear,

Barb said...

What a perfect photo to go with your post today, Deb - the red frosty leaf on dead grass turning green again. I think that your deep experience of grief (winter) will allow you to feel life (spring) even more fully.

JenniferL said...

Thank you for sharing, that really helps me too.

Donna said...

The poem is beautiful and tugs at the heartstrings.
I talked with my sister this afternoon and she said, "I'll never get over losing Mom, it's just learning to live without her and we can do that." Which is it exactly. We have learned to appreciate life more in a different way, replaced her with each other and yet never. We hold life more fragile and the end nearer and yet so far.
So many conflicting emotions but know we will all be together someday, loving each other again.

Patti Lacy said...

Oh, Deb. What a poignant post.
I too long for winter to end, but as you express, separation from our loved ones IS an emotional winter.

May God soothe your hurting heart.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"Yet some part of me will still be winter, and I'm beginning to understand may always be."

So beautifully put, yet, the green will come through. Comes every year even though we think it not possible. Even though we've forgotten. The days of winter do fade in strength. I think that is how we keep going.

Take good care.

Charlene N. K. said...

Beautifully expressed again. Yes, blessings come to us in many ways and magnitude. Sometimes, they may not be easily discernible, but they are there, we only need to have the "eyes" to see them and the proper heart condition to feel and appreciate them. After all, our loving Creator keeps showering upon us abundant blessings because he wants us to be happy and enjoy life even in the face of difficult situation.

colbymarshall said...

Spring always brings warmth and remembering that flowers bloom, that things turn green. I don't know everything you're going through, but this I can understand, because spring is when I remember things can be okay again, too. It's easier to breathe in the spring. :-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I am hugging you my friend

(we had a surprise snow today . . . I worry about the new growth that had come early with a sudden warmth we'd had after so much cold.)

the poem is breathtaking

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing your strong/fragile heart with us, for the O'Donohue poem...for being real.

I'm sorry I've not been around much of late...been in my own deep mud beneath the snow and frost. I seem to be gradually emerging, but not quite ready to surface completely. I think it is true that a bit of winters harshness always remains even when the green returns...but the silent sanctuary of winter is also a steadfast friend we can seek out in the midst of the noisy spring and summer colors. All the seasons are available, all the time, at least a residue of each one that we can look to for sorrow and comfort. Both/and.

Unspoken said...

Oh, I relate to this:

"...lesson I've had to learn lately is that no matter how careful I am, no matter how perfectly I follow the rules, no matter how patient I am - my soul has its own agenda, and life does, too."

Amber said...

You are just where you are. All your feelings, even your anger, is just right. Take your eyes off your goal of being "okay", my friend. Don't look out in front of you for your inner spring to come. Look up, instead.


Wanda-- yes. So true.*

love. ;)

Anonymous said...

"May the clay dance to balance you." My favorite line.

Loss is so difficult, but spring does help lift one's spirits.

As well as a friendly face. Thanks for stopping by so I could see your smiling face on my TGIF/green frog post. I hope you have a good week!!

Marcie said...

Thank you for sharing that blessing, and for your own heartfelt, open and vulnerable words.

the wanderer [bernard] said...

i just love how you speak of god bringing you Presence through a poem. i needed this one, too.

graceonline said...

Few homilies comfort me in times of deep trouble, but this one--I imagine it could comfort a stone. Thank you so much for sharing it. Especially, I find succor in "And so may a slow

wind work these words

of love around you, 

an invisible cloak

to mind your life."

May it be so for any of us, wherever we are, whenever we are in need of a slow wind to work words of love around us. May it continue to be true for you, however long it takes, whenever the need arises.