"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach......waiting for a gift from the sea"
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
What do you do when a tragedy occurs and throws you into uncertainty?
When the unequivocal becomes foggy and distorted and something, or someone, that has been in your life is suddenly and inexplicably gone, where do you look?
How do you begin to comprehend the sudden feelings of helplessness and loss, as if a big hole has just been blown in your heart?
These are perhaps questions that we have all been asking ourselves in the past few days after being told about our dear friend Cat's death, at least I know they are questions I have been asking myself. What do I do now, now that I am not sure anymore? How do I find the perseverance and the clarity to move through these feelings of personal and shared bereavement and loss? Where is the patience and the humility that will let time heal me, again....
I unfortunately did not know Cat well but I knew her photography extremely well. Through her incredible images and compassionate and loving spirit I feel I knew a big part of her, as I believe that people's art is a window into who they are as a person, a tangible mirror of their soul. When I read that Cat had taken her own life I sat down as though the wind had been sucked from my sails and I anchored empty and forlorn. When my shock subsided, I asked for blessings of peace and love for her and her family, and then my thoughts turned immediately to my Mother. Seventeen years ago this summer my Mother committed suicide driven to leave this world by what seems are many of the same reasons Cat did. My Mom even said in a note that there was no more "Joie de Vivre" in her life and I have come to believe that with no joy in one's life, perhaps there is no reason to have life. Some of the feelings that have surfaced around Cat's leaving are identical, if a bit less intense, than the ones that were so devastating when my Mom left this world: Confusion, Questions, Bewilderment, Questions, Incomprehensible Loss, Questions. And then on the heals of those feelings come the big ones: Aloneness, Abandonment, Anger, Fear....and of course, more Questions.
It was amidst this hurricane of grief and emotional upheaval seventeen years ago that someone placed a book in my hands, gently told me to read it and said that I would find shelter and hope in "Gift From The Sea". That first reading was a desperate attempt at a lifeline to something tangibly good and true and I only remembered it as having something to do with "filling myself up instead of spilling myself out to everyone and everything." I have since reread it numerous times and it is an honored and well traveled book in my life's journey. I brought it out again last Thursday in order to find some peace around Cat's death as I have found around my Mother's passing:
"The sea's gifts are more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life;...how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith."
In the midst of feeling profound and wordless disorientation and sadness, I look for direction by turning inward to the faithful sea inside and seek solace in the simplicity of an inner ocean shore, a haven in the storm of personal hardships and turmoil over things that I cannot change. Cat and my Mom are both gone from this tangible world, and I believe they are both on a peaceful, wondrous and loving journey, wherever and whatever that may be. I am still here. We are still here. And although it takes time, I believe with absolute faith, hope and acceptance that all these somber feelings will be replaced again with Life-Full ones of wonder and joy, love and peace, all coming with time, wave upon wave, like gifts from the sea.
"I want first of all....to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints - to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible."
Thank you Anne Morrow Lindbergh for all of your insights and gifts to us all.
Thank you also to Frances, Mollie and Deb for the incredible art to illustrate this Post and please visit their Etsy Shops here:
Peace, Love and Light to all...