I’ve always been spiritually omnivorous: I can find something beautiful in any tradition. Something beautiful in any tradition can usually find me.
Early in my grief, I was so raw and hungry, I went to loads of different spiritual houses just to hear if there was anything for me. Because I was unknown in those communities, I felt comfortable: I had a cloak of anonymity.
Besides, I was so completely inside my own grief, it was like I was the only one in the room.
The big thing that changed it all for me, the thing that kept me from continuing or settling in any one place was that I became self-conscious. As time wore on, I became aware of the disruption of my presence. I began to notice that people noticed me, sitting there in a far back pew, tears rolling down my face, most often talking to myself.
I was no longer invisible, and those traditions that were not my own no longer worked for me. I was too aware of myself to be comfortable there.
Once I became so aware of being noticed, I stopped going. I wasn’t “one of them,” and I couldn’t pretend I was.
Plus, I don’t like strangers coming over to talk to me when I have sh*t going on, so that was an added barrier.
I miss those early times. Strange to say, but often true. I miss being so caught up in the immediacy of my heart that I felt entirely free to cry, to be moved, to be anything.
I miss letting myself be fed in those places, hearing words that brought him close to me, that brought me into the world of more-than-we-know, even deep inside my grief.
Each Friday, I share a post from my own personal grief experience.
In this week’s Friday personals, a post from late 2010, when I still felt comfortable enough to hang out in churches, before I became “too familiar.”
The other day, I imagined someone saying to me, “but he’s been gone a year,” and I said – “No. It can’t be. That isn’t. No.”
And then I realized – he has. He has been gone a year, and then some. A year and five months, today.
I went to mass, heathen that I am, and the homily was perfect for me, as always. Well, as often. I learned that today is the 3rd sunday of advent, also called The Sunday Of Joy. (it is also the feast day of the virgin of guadalupe, which he didn’t mention, but I already knew)
So – the Sunday of Joy.
He went on to describe the difference between happiness and joy. He took a detour to talk about grief – when our hearts are shattered, when we have lost one we hold most dear, when there is no happiness, there may be joy, somewhere, in knowing that our separation is only temporary. We must hold our hearts, feel our brokenness, and all the while know our separation is temporary.
I try to believe that.
At least (at most), to know that there is more to this world and whatever lies around it than I will ever know. There is more heaven jammed into this place right now than most would know, and who am I to say whether our separation is temporary or not.
I can’t imagine love would disappear. I need to know, and believe, and remind myself, that love IS.
When my time comes to join the compost pile of this life, I have to believe I’ll know it’s time, because matt comes on over to pick me up. Rests his hands on the chair opposite mine, and just says: “ready?”
None of these faiths belong to me, and their heavens don’t match mine, but sometimes I wish they did. Sometimes I wish there was a place that felt like mine. Especially now.
I wish (though not really) that I believed in any one thing, so I could, I don’t know, join something and feel like it fit. No, I really don’t. But I do like churches, and I always have. Especially when they’re empty.
If there were some Order who would take me, take me in all my spirit of gods but not the letters of people, take me without pinning me into one way and one way only, then I would probably become the nun my high school guidance counselors thought I would be (much to the surprise and hysterical laughter of my friends at the time).
I’ve always been a monk of my own order. My fellow goofy monk has gone on ahead, and I am not digging this order alone.
One year and five months.
My match and my equal, my peer and my friend. I miss you my love. Happy third sunday, 74th sunday, and day of Our Lady who brings surprise tangible gifts of her love.
How about you? How do you reconcile the visceral reality and the unknown, but hoped for, reality that your separation is somehow temporary? If you don’t subscribe to any particular spiritual tradition, how do you orient yourself to this more-than-we-know world? And, have you noticed a shift in your self-consciousness in grief? What’s that like for you?
Let us know in the comments, or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.