Monday, April 26, 2010

A Question of Faith

"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; 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 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...


  1. beautiful kristin...thank you for these healing and heartfelt words in cat's memory.

  2. Kristin- I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I can only imagine the feelings and questions that have re-emerged after Cat's passing.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. You are truly an inspiration and I'm so thankful to know you.

    I will certainly be getting a copy of this book.

    Love and hugs

  3. Kristin, your beautiful thoughts, and the words you've so carefully chosen to express them, have brought us a sense of peace, hope and, yes, joy -- as we make our way forward. You've expanded our horizons beyond incomprehensible sorrow and loss and have, once again, awakened our deep gratitude and love for this remarkable Team Etsy Project Embrace.
    ~ Mollie and Joe
    Thank you so very much for choosing my wreath here. To say I'm honored is an understatement.

  4. What an incredible piece of writing! I am overwhelmed by your clarity and insight. You have given me so much to contemplate! Thank you, Kristin. I am also very sorry for the loss of your mother.
    I want to read this book!
    Love to all!

  5. Beautifully written, Kristin. You have such a wonderful way of getting the heart of things. I'm so sorry to hear about Cat, and also about your mother. I'm honored you felt my artwork was worthy as an illustration for your words. Thank you.

  6. What a magnificent tribute to your mother and to Cat to be able to express all the tumultuous feelings and find a way to be such an inspiration to so many. xoxo to you, Kristin.

  7. Kristin, you are such an artist with your hands and your heart and your words. Thank you for the clarity and graciousness you show in your writing. We all seem to be trying to put our feelings about Cat somewhere positive and I guess that to be open to pain as well as joy is the only way to do that. My heart goes out to you for your Mom and to all of us who have lost someone! Love, Cait

  8. A beautiful, heartfelt message. You inspire all of us who "know" you and have the pleasure of reading your words... Suz

  9. What an incredibly open and sincere message that you gave to us. I am glad that "Gift From the Sea" gave you an outlet for understanding and overcoming your pain, and that you were able to find meaning in it again with Cat. Nobody really understands what can drive a person, we just have to find peace with it for the rest of our lives. Thanks for sharing..Michelle

  10. Whole, balanced, strong, and patient - I will try to be all those things. Thanks so much for sharing this. Sheila

  11. Hi Kristen...I'm not sure how I found my way here but I'm happy that I did. I too found this book to be a lifeline at a time when I needed it most. I was a young mother with three young children and living in the far north of Canada when I first read it. I was feeling very isolated, lost and overwhelmed at the time and "Gifts From The Sea" spoke to me as few books ever have.

    I wonder if Anne Lindbergh ever realized how many she helped with her small book of wisdom.

  12. Beautifully written. I found peace in every word!


  13. Such lovely words, Kristin. I, too, find much wisdom and insight in Anne Morrow Lindbergh's small book.. You've reminded me that perhaps it's time to re-read it.

    Thank you for this poignant and calming post.