Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sweet recollection

As we move into the final days of Lent, with Palm Sunday looming on the horizon, some part of me feels like hunkering down for the storm ahead and another part of me cannot resist the allure of spring; the cherry trees still blooming, the daffodils everywhere, the light that greets me now when I awake, and the birdsongs that provide theme and counterpoint to my meditations.

There is an intensity to this time of overlap, when endings and beginnings coincide -- just as there is at dawn and at dusk, when light and darkness begin trading places and we find ourselves floating somewhere in between. We photographers love to shoot at the beginning and the end of day, precisely because of that ephemeral confusion between dark and light, as the shadows grow longer and the colors more intense before fading altogether.

As I spent yesterday grieving the loss of my friend, this is the image that emerged -- which tells me that death, too, is one of those times when ending and beginning coincide, and everything is more intense. There is the sense that something -- could it be darkness? -- is falling, and something else is rising into the light; a feeling of being underwater, and finding it hard to breathe...

We cannot deny the sense of loss, and yet we rejoice in the end of pain. For those who loved, there is that dreadful emptiness, but lurking somewhere deep beneath, might there be new opportunities waiting to be born? What might a life look like with that piece gone? What opening has been created for new joy to arise? How can we, in honoring the lost one's gifts, find new gifts planted and ready to bloom?

A grieving father happened upon the poem I wrote earlier this week, about singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to my daughter, and sent me this kind note:

"It’s been a number of years since I lost my son, and by and large, I have but warm memories of him. But sometimes, out of the blue, I read see or hear something (like your poem) - and the pain is like a knife wound… and the tears come. It is a bittersweet thing, because with the sorrow comes the profound sense of love I feel for him — still. These days, the tears subside quickly, and I am left with just sweet recollection."

We cannot deny, shortcut, or circumvent the magnitude of the losses we endure. But with time, I hope, the bitter memories take on the sweet fragrances of spring. Perhaps then we can rejoice in the presence that was -- and find it blooming in our hearts, as love.


Maureen said...

A very lovely and deeply tender post, Diane. It's the right one for me to read this week, becaus Thursday is my brother's birthday and he's been dead now for almost a year and that thought intrudes so strongly that it takes conscious effort to tamp it so that I can work. The presence of him and of Him is great. I do rejoice to carry both in my heart.

The image is gorgeous.


altar ego said...

Beautifully written. You communicate a difficult truth with grace. My condolences on the loss of your friend.