On a beautiful day in July, I found myself at a lovely gathering on a friends land. In the late afternoon there had been an “un-talent show” in which I had shared a song. Something about that sharing brought up a lot of tenderness for me, which I couldn’t quite place at the time, so I carried on with "being at the party" and didn't think about it.
Later that night, as I was dancing, a wave of even more powerful tenderness rose up through my body. Simultaneously an inner linebacker came out of the wings and tackled it out of sight. I know that’s happened a million times in my life, but in this moment I pulled the linebacker off of the wave and welcomed whatever was moving to fully express itself.
What emerged literally buckled my knees.
What emerged was the grief of my body from years of starvation from loving touch.
It wasn’t the grief of my heart for the beloved, nor of my mind for the companion (I’m familiar with both of those presences). It wasn’t a whisper or a glimpse: it was a howling, agonized, bone-deep, soul-deep aching in my body that felt bottomless, dark, and old.
I had to sit down. I had to ask someone to come close to me and hear about it, it was so huge. It changed the entire arc of my night. It actually changed the entire arc of my experience.
The last time I experienced a lover in my life was a few years ago. He was young and lovely, and I let him in deeper than was appropriate. He lied to me about something very important in an extraordinary way, and the lover in me shut down because of it. Almost entirely.
And then one night while I was out dancing, the grief in my flesh and blood sang out its song, demanding to be heard.
So I welcomed the truth and the magnitude of it to arrive into my life.
I sat with the revelation of that grief for a few weeks. I sat in council with it, I dreamt into it, I brought it to my altar, I walked with it in the wild. I sang a lot of songs, did a lot of dancing, asked a lot of questions and did a lot of listening.
What I learned was that the safety of shutdown was suffocating one of the most vital, beautiful parts of my being, and that part of me wasn’t willing to die for safety any longer.
I had to open. And I did.
I placed a prayer in the center of my awareness that invited the flourishing of something sweet from a wild place in the temple of my being. I asked to be given a good and beautiful way to feed the starvation in my body. I began to soften the ramparts of my fortress just enough that something new and different could come in to my experience.
Which it did.
There is something sweet from a wild place in my life now. My body, my heart, and my soul are currently being fed in a way that I haven’t touched in many years, much longer than the two since the last lover I experienced.
I don’t know what will unfold from here, but it has provided a nourishment and a resurrection that I had not even known I needed until that great wave of grief broke on the shore of my awareness and I took its wisdom and council to heart.
This is the generosity of grief.
Now, I am certainly not saying that every opening to grief will lead to the house of romance. It won’t.
What I am saying that every opening to grief, when done honestly and with full heart, leads deeper in to life. And that is the only path worth following.
Grief has brought me into the Song of my Soul, revealing a miraculous cache of music in that space.
Grief has brought me into the Song of my Dance, pouring through my movements in a torrent of beauty that heals me and inspires everything that witnesses that communion.
Grief has insisted that I discover, learn, integrate, actualize, and embody the greatest possibilities of my being, develop the full scope of my wisdom, touch every aspect of my holy life with love and reverence, heal and be healed by everything I meet in that touching, and thereby become an offering of beauty to Life itself and a living resource for the whole as we journey through these most extraordinary times.
This is extraordinary generosity.
It has been a demanding apprenticeship, and among the most excellent things I have ever done for myself. What being with grief offers to me is worth all of the pain and discomfort of learning how to be with this friend. This is worth everything.
And it is something I would like to share with you.
I am hosting a journey called Tending Grief, Feeding Joy. It is a five-week container of deep exploration, practice, and experience with these two powers, grief and joy, who are a bonded pair in the human experience.
There are two options, both five consecutive weeks at the same time:
Online begins Monday, October 25th, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
In person in White Salmon, WA, begins Tuesday, October 26th, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Space is limited, registration is open. Contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to secure your spot.
The grief in the core of your being is a source of power and healing as well as a direct pathway to true, unconditional joy.
Let’s dive in to those deep waters and discover what is there together.