Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Hope: When Grief Births New Life

Do you ever look at life and wonder, how did all this happen? How am I breathing and how did that living thing playing over there come forth from my own flesh and blood? I don't mean this in the theological or philosophical sense, not the searching for a concrete answer or the reasoning out of logical possibilities on Creation. 
I mean, do you ever just stop and stand in awe that life - so fragile, so delicate - happens at all?
This week, the kids and I went on a walk and noticed the first signs of Spring. So many delicate, colorful signs of life popping up from the barely thawed floor of winter. Between dead leaves and brown grass, fragile starts of life rose all around us and we were overjoyed at the sight of every bloom. Each time we spotted a bright purple or yellow flower amidst so much brown, my daughter would run to it, and with a tender touch gasp, "Look, Mama! Take a picture of this one, too!!" She stood in awe of new life every time.

I know Easter is a season for hoping, a season of new life and beautiful promises. And I think we need all the hope we can get. 

But to be honest, when I really think about how fragile and delicate life is, it all but breaks my heart into a thousand pieces and makes me wonder what on earth I was thinking to birth two precious children into this broken world. How can we sit with the reality of our own mortality and fragility, and not be shaken a bit, especially if we are mothers? 

It is hard to accept how out of control we are, how needy and prone to breaking, prone to dying we all are. As parents, it is a harsh truth to contemplate - not to mention the horror of those that experience it - that our children some day will pass. That life is so, so fragile. And we are fragile, too. 
It is hard to sit with a friend grieving her third miscarriage, or look another friend in the eye with a child whose liver is failing, and not fret over every living thing, wondering how these delicate vessels of skin and bones we inhabit survive anything at all. 
And yet, every Spring brings new hope. Every Easter reminds us of something eternal, something greater than these delicate vessels. Something in us rises up and is drawn to each tender bloom of life. A new baby wails into the world and we weep from the beauty of it. We believe and we hope and we cling, despite all of life's delicacies.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book, The Inner Voice of Love, "Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds."

In my own seasons of grief, I have wrestled with stinginess toward my seeds, not wanting to, or perhaps just not knowing how to release the seeds of excruciating pain and desperation I was feeling to the earth. Not knowing what it meant to let my grief birth something new. Not having the energy or the imagination to dream or hope again. 
And so, for years I clung to my seeds, clung to my pain as a banner of identity, wrapped myself in the truth of my suffering. Not at all out of a desire to keep the pain close, but out of total ignorance as to any other choice available to me. I was sad, and that was the only reality I could see. 
But eventually, I got tired of clutching onto the pain and found my hands slowly opening. Something inside me finally gave way to all the strain of carrying that grief for years, and I found myself deep in rich soils, deep in new possibilities, deep in hope. 

A reader wrote to me this week, thanking me for sharing my story of adoption loss and offering to me her own story of loss. As I responded to her pain, I realized how far I have come in identifying with grief as my sole being. What a miracle it was last Spring when I was finally able to set pictures of our lost son out around the house and start talking about him regularly and freely. How freeing it was to tell my story and to feel the hope again that much more life was yet to come. 
I wrote to this reader, "I encourage you in your own space to press into the very real emotions, the very valid questions and not to accept anything that feels fake or doesn't fit you as you grieve. That was the greatest gift I gave myself in grief - not settling for fake." 
Maybe this Easter, hope feels a little too foreign, a little too forced or fake to call your own. Don't despair. Many of us have been there and have allowed our pain to take root and to bear fruit in its own time. Yours will, too, Brave One. 

Happy Easter!

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  1. Thank you so much, this speaks deeply to me. :,)

    1. Thanks for reading, Whitney! You know I love being able to express my thoughts and find connection through it. Love to you!

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