In the bleak midwinter, one must sit with what comes.
This morning I awoke to a letter from an old friend which I had intentionally delayed opening. It filled me with grief and sadness; regret and feelings of failure and loss. I saw the letter there waiting for me in the line up of emails but put the phone down. Then I picked it up and fingered it, looking for the Pandora music app. I thought perhaps I would listen to music in the darkness of the early morning. Meditation was subconsciously out of the question today. I would try to anesthetize the pain away.
As I stood there half dressed, cold, with a slight tremble in one hand I tried to make my phone connect to my speaker to listen to the Loreena McKennitt station. Perhaps that music would make me feel lofty and uplifted as the morning office canticle says. It just hurled me into the sea (which the office canticle also says). The Pandora app was not connecting to the speaker. No anesthesia. I has to feel my pain. I hate that.
I considered doing the dishes which have been piling up but an angel whispered that I was just trying to escape facing my grief. I tried to play with Kai but he just stat there, looking at me as if he and the angel had had a chat. I tried to read but the grif clouded the words and soon I was looking at words but not reading. I tried to answer emails but by then the proverbial cat was out of the bag and I was fully aware – fully mindful of exactly what I was doing. It was as if this angel I was imagining was smiling at me with arms crossed – willing to lend me courage but unwilling to co-pretend that I had no spiritual work to do before the day begins – before I drag my pain into the day and start infecting others with it.
So I sat with good, rich, smooth coffee in my favorite swan-necked chair with green silk and copper laurel leaves by a candle lit with fire and near my dog trying to wait with me in my Gethsemane moment (though the occasional snore told me that he too could not stay awake) and I faced – full on – my grief. I looked into its eyes. I told it that I was ready for what it must teach me. It nodded with great wisdom and kindness. And we began the work of the day – being a good human – learning what is needed – facing what is needed – living the spiritual life by not inflating un-dealt-with pain into day-shrapnel. As each piece of metal from the exploding emotions was gently caught in mid flight and placed in Jesus’ hands it got sticky with the blood of his palm and vanished.