The Valley of Vision
Lord - high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,
Where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to possess all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive
That the valley is the place of vision.
Lord - in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells, and the deeper the wells, the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley. -
This morning I met with a group of women to share on the subject of grief. Each time I am asked to "give a talk" or "share" on this topic - I first have to sit with the invitation in order to determine my response. There have been a few occasions in the past few years when I declined. However, on the occasions when I do accept - the next part of the process for me is discernment on what specific message(s) are to be given. This is usually a grueling process when it comes to this subject for me personally. This instance was no different.
In preparation for this talk - as I would sit down to pray and collect my thoughts - (and try to order them) - the only thing that I could access was the truth of the complexity of the topic. In general - yes - grief is complex. However - There is a much deeper meaning in this topic for me given the last fifteen years of my life.
Two years ago - I voluntarily entered into a process of grieving the death of my mother, father, aunt, uncle - and a few other personal losses that were substantial in nature and had all occurred between 2001 and 2011. During the first year of that process, I declined most invitations to share on the subject of grief. People often ask me, "How did you enter into a process of grieving? What does that mean?" - Well . . . after making the decision to enter a process of grieving (which took awhile), I picked up multiple resources to research in order to determine which would be the best fit to accompany me on the journey. One day I picked up one particular book - as I flipped slowly through the first pages . . . the following beckoned me to be still and read. . .
THE RAIN TO THE WIND SAID
"YOU PUSH AND I'LL PELT."
THEY SO SMOTE THE GARDEN BED
THAT THE FLOWERS ACTUALLY KNELT.
AND LAY LODGED- THOUGH NOT DEAD.
I KNOW HOW THE FLOWERS FELT.
- Robert Frost
"If you have ever said a deeply significant goodbye, you know "how the flowers felt, " you know what it is like to have life pelt you with sorrow, to be overwhelmed with emptiness, loneliness, confusion and sadness. The sorrow of it can pervade one's whole self and hurt in every part of one's being...." Praying our Goodbyes - by Joyce Rupp
When I read that segment of her book, I knew she had been where I was. In that moment - tears filled my eyes, my heart was warmed, and I felt as if I could now settle in to the journey.
In reflection - it also reminded me of select portions of the passage from 2 Corinthians 4 where Paul writes,
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; ...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies....knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence...So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not the to things that are seen but to the things that are unseen....they are eternal. "
These two quotes are glimpses of what my heart experienced in the loss of my family members. Rupp's book is a "work" book of sorts with reflection questions at the end of each chapter. It was one of 3 books I chose to accompany me on my journey of intentional grieving. The Bible and my journal are the other two.
Getting back to what prompted me to write this post in the first place...I enjoyed sharing this morning on this subject. I believe I am nearing the end of my grieving process which results in a different experience every time I share with others publicly. I recently was struck by a quote from Paolo Massari, "The holy suffering of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also a sea of love. Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this sea. Immerse yourself in it, and, no matter how deeply you go, you will never reach the bottom."
In my prayer this morning for these women, I prayed that we would have the courage to also float in that sea with an act of surrender. It is the ocean of love and grace.
This morning - a few things that seemed significant for some of them are:
1. We grieve because we love.
2. Grieving takes time…an average of three years to fully accept a new normal.
3. Grieving can make us feel a bit crazy....it doesn't mean we are.
4. Healthy grieving is a voluntary decision and process.
5. It is a myth that time heals all wounds.
6. Everyone grieves differently.
7. There is a difference between solitude and isolation. Solitude is healthy.
8. There is a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.
9. Love Heals.
10. Grief is a gift from God.
Until next time...
LOVE ALWAYS WINS