Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Softening through Loss

One of my favorite authors is Oriah Mountain Dreamer.  In 1999 she published The Invitation and in 2003 it was The Call.  During that time I received her newsletters hoping to be able to attend one of her lectures.   I remember one particular newsletter in which she wrote in her beautiful prose how she needed to take a break from her lectures, she needed to rest and take care of her health.  She wrote she was getting married and told about how they had found a wonderful home in the country and were creating a life together.  It all seemed so perfect.  And, I read her newsletter like a child reads a fairy tale, imagining the loving mate, a home nestled in the country surrounded by trees and wild life, and a warm glow in the fireplace to snuggle by.   

No doubt the newsletter stayed with me because I was in a relationship that I knew was ending and probably should never have been anyway.  I often think that people are attracted to you because of your light, your brightness, your joy of being alive.  You shine with something they want but don’t have.  They mirror you and for a moment you are a perfect match.  They love what you love and have the same zest for life.  But, it doesn’t last—it can’t last—because it isn’t who they are and slowly they wear down, can’t keep up the pace, can’t hold the light and respond with same spontaneity to life.  They begin to resent you because the truth is that they didn’t really want you they wanted to be you –to have what you have.  It all gets confusing and leaves you wondering what happened or what could you have done differently.  Sometimes you even begin to change yourself before you realize that you both are at opposite ends of the spectrum.   So as my relationship was ending I was struck by the hopefulness of hearing about a life that was just beginning to take form.
I think about it today because I just read her blog, The Green Bough, in which she writes of endings. The end of that marriage, letting go of the home in the country,  the personal items left behind, the end of all aspects of a shared life and what that now means to and for her.   As I read I was sad, sad for her, sad for me, sad for my aunt who is grieving over the recent loss of her husband and a life that they shared for over 60 years.  I was sad for men and women who have loved and have felt the pain of loss in the many different ways there are of losing.   And, I thought about how important it is to hold open our hearts, to let go and flow gently into the losses each of us will inevitably face in our lives and to never let it harden us at the deepest level but to soften into it.  

As I write I am reminded of a poem by Rumi titled A Guest House and I thought if I was granted one wish, one desire, one prayer on this night for all of us it is that we find the courage to open our heart to welcome each day as a guest and watch with nonjudgmental wonder at whatever it brings.
A Guesthouse
This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight . . .
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks


The Invitation

The Call
The Essential Rumi

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