Resting in Sorrow

Life gives us so many opportunities to experience its innate sorrow.  Being alive as a human being is to know sorrow intimately, if we are willing to open to it, to allow it to take root in our hearts.  Take root seems an apt phrase now that I’ve written it.  Our lived experience sheds the seeds of sorrow, every loss, misunderstanding, disappointment, every illumination of our powerlessness.  Every encounter with aging, sickness and death.  With scarcity, chaos.

My life has been a paradoxical relationship with sorrow.  There’s a way in which it has been my constant companion and a way in which I’ve treated it like an embarrassing relative.  When I was a child, one of my mother’s constant refrains to me was “why are you crying?”  As a college student, publishing my first poems, neighbors asked “why are they so sad?  You’re always so happy!”  I learned to put a happy face on my own innate melancholy.  It took a lot of years, is TAKING a lot of years, to slip once and for all out of the mask, to come out of the closet and live freely as a melancholic.

Today, I’m feeling the juicy fruits of sorrow.  The soil is moist and receptive.  I feel pregnant with it.  The seeds continue to fall–an email ending a particular sort of relationship, a conversation with my mother in which we trade “can you hear me? How do you feel?  How is your weather?  Thank you for calling.”  It’s the lingua franca of our family for “I miss you.  I love you.  Are you alright?  Are you still there?  When will I see you?”

People come and go through the doors of our many rooms.  They brush against us with the fibers of their Being.  They leave their scent, their texture, “an impression” as Joni Mitchell once sang “of their loneliness.”  And yet, and so, we do and we must embrace them and what they bring and what they leave.  We must gather the flowers of every passing, every meeting.  We must allow ourselves to rest in the bed of our sorrows.

Broken-hearted River

It’s been a while since my last post. The wild ebb and flow of life has kept me otherwise occupied, but today, there’s a melancholy yearning in my heart that brings me back.

It’s late afternoon.  I have an hour or so before I have to go back to work for a Board meeting.  I drove to Blue Star for a latte and then drove down to the river,  picked my way out to a little spit of land where the water is rushing by shallow, cold, rocky. Everyone seems to have had the same idea today.   Scattered  around the river are clusters of people, a man with his toddler son, an old woman with her dog, people in singles, pairs, small groups basking in the river’s presence.

The river is a balm.  Throughout the day, I’ve felt a small dense pressure in my heart.  It is free from story or cause.  Free from any particular worry.  Rather it feels like a conduit to a deeper layer of my humanity, a sort of heartache of living, of aliveness.

No matter how deeply I fall into awakened consciousness, this heartache is always there.  It’s like this river rushing, thinning, opening, always moving from source to sea to rain and snow and back again, passing through stalk and leaf and fruit.  Today it blossoms here inside me, bursting forth with a persistence that cannot be ignored.

Nothing can stop its course.  Nothing  plug its source.  The hole from which it springs is eternal, human, precious.  I’m grateful for its waters that bathe me in such tenderness and tenderize me with with its relentlessness. Long may it ramble.