Nov. 3, 2014
He was here to fill my aching arms after our little son Christopher failed to come home from the hospital. He was here to welcome the next child, Emily, safely into our family. He was here for birthday parties, sleepovers, first days of school, first crushes. He saw our oldest, Katie, grow into a woman, graduate from college and begin her new life. And he was here just this morning, happy to be let out into the glorious sunshine, although he had not quite been himself for the past few days. “You sweet little thing,” I murmured in response to his happy purr. And now, this evening, as gently and peacefully as entered our lives, our beautiful cat has left us. Goodbye, Mozart, and thank you for 18 wonderful years.
“If you open your eyes to the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This kind of sadness occurs because your heart is completely exposed. The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your heart is full. You would like to spill your heart’s blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart.” ~ Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa
Today I read these words in a book I checked out of the library. I was seeking some words of wisdom to guide me as I tried to find healing in a distressing situation that — while not by any measure the worst catastrophe that has ever befallen me — was nonetheless enough of a shock to leave me sad, shaken and depressed.
New words for an abiding truth
In its simplest terms, the above quote sets forth the Buddhist philosophy on sorrow, which counsels that one embrace one’s grief, rather than trying to deny or suppress it.
It’s not really a new idea. I’ve long believed that painful feelings are far better faced and worked through than neatly tucked in, bottled up, or otherwise stifled. Suffice it to say that Trungpa’s words merely put a new wrapper on a familiar concept.
The rhythm of renewal
Still, it never hurts to be reminded that one’s heart can be broken at any age … that we remain vulnerable to people and relationships we thought we had outgrown the need for … that life can blindside and wound us at least as readily as it can surprise and delight us … and that this cycle of heartache and joy is as natural and foreseeable a part of life as the taking in and expiring of breath, as the coming and going of the seasons, as the ebb and flow of the tides. All things in the universe have their expected rise and fall. It is how life continues to renew itself.
Did I say it never hurts to be reminded of these things? Actually, it does hurt. That is precisely the point. It is only in our continued ability to experience the pain of brokenness that we find the suppleness and strength for new growth.
Let the grieving commence
I look forward to the day when this is once again good news. Today, however, it simply hurts. And I’m simply going to have to let it do so.