I use to know exactly what I believed in, God, my family, the sanctity of childhood, the value of education and the arts, the responsibility we have to make life easier for one another and the need to connect with and protect the earth. I not only knew these things I felt them with every breath I took. I could talk passionately concerning these subjects with a bravado that clearly put me in the category of “odd” by most and “lovable but quirky” by those who pictured me in a more favorable light. How was it then, that when I sat down to participate in NPR’s “This I Believe” essay project I came up completely blank? Writing was a hobby of mine, poetry primarily, often in the form of prayers that helped me come to terms with the events of my life. Lately, I had been going through a dry spell where all of my feelings felt tangled up. It reminded me of an old fashioned telephone switch board with all of the lines plugged into the wrong outlets. I knew that there were messages being sent, I just could not clearly hear them. Participating in this writing project seemed like it might help me reconnect to myself and untangle these wires, and yet try as I might my voice did not come.
My mom died this year. It was not an untimely death; she had lived an excellent life and was loved and respected by many. She had been granted the grace to remain a central force in the life of her children, a confidant, an advisor, a woman of great creativity and amazing problem solving skills. I have faith in all the sweet stories of heaven and no doubt that we will be together again and yet when she left this earth it was as if much of me evaporated. She had been my mirror. I knew who I was because I saw it reflected in her eyes, my voice was strong because hers was close by and I was able to embrace my challenges because she was always my champion. When she left this earth my heart broke. And so for today, “This is what I believe.” All of us have a fundamental right to grieve. We do not have to keep up appearances; we are allowed to drop out for a time. We do not have to be profoundly insightful or even demonstrate our unshakable faith. We can simply sit in our sorrow, draw a circle around ourselves and take the time to heal.
“When we’ve walked though the shadows alone long enough, when the ache in our heart is no longer so rough” we will once again return to be present to our purpose.
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