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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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Longing Is a Hunger

Longing comes in the evening, as it often does, rising from its hidden place.

The house I built in grief shelters me. It keeps me warm through the days and nights, and I am grateful. Yet I hunger for more.

When grief first came, everything shut down. Windows were boarded up. Doors shut. The world went dark. My mind could not comprehend death or the dissolution of life. Emotions ran out of control. My spirit lost its footing because every truth, law and belief crumbled away under the weight of death’s relentless pressure. All senses went numb, giving me a protected space.
The body has its own wisdom.

In his book I-Thou, Martin Buber speaks of longing, of the desire for such closeness in a relationship that boundaries blur and cease to exist, and there is unity of body, mind and heart. He was speaking of the relationship between believer and the Sacred Other, but this longing for closeness extends to our personal relationships – between spouses, between parent and child, between close friends.

I often felt this closeness with Evelyn. Our life was like the slow tango as it is danced in out-of-the-way places in Argentina where two people are so connected that they anticipate the other person’s next move. They dance until dawn when they collapse in exhaustion and delight.

The house of grief’s longing is my body.

The body is often the first to recover in grief, perhaps because it has to eat and sleep in order to survive, even though rest is sporadic, and food tastes like paste. As the senses return, we begin to notice the warmth of the sun, the spices in food, and even find a little pleasure in them. The mind and spirit take longer to come back.

The house of longing is grief’s body; the house my body of lonely grief.

I often went to Yosemite when my mind and heart were numb. The stunning beauty and light of the mountains were able to penetrate my shell, and hiking over its landscape reconnected my body to the earth. I lost track of my worries in the wonder of nature.

Being in the wilderness also forced me to pay attention to the moment, to my physical surroundings, because the dangers of mountain lions and bears were real. Hiking for ten hours also made me incredibly hungry, thirsty, and physically tired. I finally slept well.

The scent of pine trees filled the fresh air. The sounds of waterfalls and cascading rivers floated across the meadows, and I could feel the strength of the earth beneath my feet. I needed to be grounded like this because everything else had been swept away.

Longing is a physical hunger.

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