Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Rumi's Stretcher From Grace

March 24

Last night I was wandering around the house, which I do from time to time, when a line from Rumi’s poem “Zero Circle” came to mind: “Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.” I don’t think that Rumi was specifically addressing grief, but his words offer insights for those who are grieving.

The poem starts: “Be helpless, dumbfounded, / Unable to say yes or no.” 
That pretty much sums up our state of mind when grief begins, because we no longer know what to think or feel about anything. I love the image of us being in such bad shape that a stretcher is needed, because grief is often so invisible that people can’t tell if we’re grieving by looking at us, while inside we are feeling beat up and battered like we’ve been mugged.
I also like Rumi’s assurance that grace will come into our pain if we allow it. But first we have to acknowledge that the pain is real and that we need assistance, then we can deal with what caused it.

The second stanza concerns seeing the Beauty in what is happening. Big B Beauty is a term for philosophical purity, but for the rest of this reflection, I’m going to substitute Grief for Beauty.

Can we see the purity of Grief? Is there beauty in Grief? As hard as this moment is, how yanked out of the ordinary it seems to be, this moment is, as is every other moment, a door that can open us to perceiving more than what we currently understand. We can see reality with stark clarity.
If we say that we see the purity of Grief, and that we understand completely what is going on, then we lie, because we cannot fully comprehend anything absolute, let alone see it. 
If we say that we don’t see it, then we have already shut the door and understand nothing.

But if we aren’t sure, the third stanza says, then there is hope for us because we are still seeking, and the door remains open for us to approach and look over the boundary. And this is how we recover from grief, by watching, listening, and learning.

The last line of the poem holds another surprise, that if we surrender to Grief, if we accept what has happened, if we allow what has ended to move into the past, then we can become a great kindness. 

What this means, to my understanding, is that if we are honest in our struggles with Grief, if are willing to learn from them, and if we trust Grief to lead us as the path unfolds, then grace will come and re-open our lives. Compassion will fill our hearts, and people who need to hear what we have found will come and listen.

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