April 29, 2005

A Reflection

Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Anne Sexton

This portion of Anne Sexton's poem captures a fugitive wisdom. Sorrow (or grief) is most often hidden, put out of mind, set aside and ignored. It is so painful that we seek to avoid addressing sorrow, hoping that there is some less painful antidote. As a result, sorrow persists hiding behind the emotions and activities of each day.

What would happen if we were able to befriend our sorrow, powder it, give it a back rub, cover it with a blanket? I confess that I can understand this intellectually better than emotionally. I have always found it helpful to share feelings with another. Yet the idea of pampering unhappy feelings seems appropriate. I do believe that such care might awaken sorrow to wings of the roses and be transformed.

Posted by Donel at April 29, 2005 09:18 PM

Maybe Donel, you will be an English teacher in your next life. You can make literature a friend of many rather than a topic to be avoided.

It beats coming back as a dog, unless you were a Basset Hound in my household.

Dog-less Jennifer

Of course, this reminds me of a short story I read a zillion years ago. It was about a boy who was sick in bed. Each day his dog would return to him, jump up on the bed, and the boy through touch and smell and sight could travel every place the dog had been. The dog was a carrier of life outside the stuffy bedroom where the boy dwelt all the day long.

Do you want me to bring you a doggy to go with Hairball?

Posted by: Jennifer at April 29, 2005 09:41 PM

No dogs, Jennifer, an imaginary cat is more than I can handle.

And in the next life I will try to be Donel. Remember Rabbi Zusya.

Posted by: Donel McClellan at April 29, 2005 09:59 PM

Feather Fur And Flower

Swans and
otters swoon.

Blossoms drink
baptism's water.

We study
life's end.

Nancy Kennell

Posted by: Nancy Kennell at April 30, 2005 05:49 AM

"awaken sorrow to wings of the roses, and be transformed"... sounds a lot like a butterfly metamorphosis eh? wrapped in rather ugly tight bindings, then released into winged beauty?

o.k. Donel, I'm getting your message ...
acknowledge that which will not go away...the painful shadow child that lurks in loneliness, waiting for an invitation to be embraced... to be named.

I think Native American culture created ceremonies far richer than ours to deal with the full spectrum of life, with music, dance, colors, chanting, and silent tuning. It seems a time to gather, to behold pain and sorrow and find the wisdom in them.

Thank you Donel for your timely kindness and comfort. You are the most help of anything. I will come to you for embrace of my unspeakable feelings, perhaps name them, or maybe not....

I miss your family. You are each giving life to this process of cherishing. You are writing the book on tribal relevance. A gift grander than any.

With great love and vulnerability,
Jennifer, the Orcas one

Posted by: jennifer johnson fralick at April 30, 2005 09:51 AM

Please pass the powder. I look forward to the roses!

Posted by: Janet at April 30, 2005 02:27 PM

There once was a great rabbi, Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol. Rabbi Zusya spent much of his life studying text and serving small congregations throughout many provinces. His life was filled with congregational expectations as well as fulfilling the expectations of his students. One day a young man saw Rabbi Zusya sitting on the steps leading up to the synagogue. His head was in his hands and he was obviously upset about something. The young man approached Rabbi Zusya and asked him, "Rabbi Zusya, why are you so distraught?"

Rabbi Zusya responded, "because, I am concerned about the day that I will have to go before the great throne of judgment."

"Rabbi Zusya, you have nothing to worry about. You have been a great scholar and rabbi to so many people. You strive to meet all the needs of so many people. You might even be compared to such a scholar as Moses!"

"Yes, that is what worries me. For when I go before the throne of judgment, they will NOT ask me, 'why were you not more like Moses our teacher? Instead, they will ask me: 'Why were you not more like Zusya?'"

Posted by: Rabbi Zusya at April 30, 2005 10:46 PM

This talk of grief, and the earlier posting about sleeplessness, made me think of this poem by Jody Aliesan, from her book *Grief Sweat.*

winter solstice

when you startle awake in the dark morning
heart pounding breathing fast
sitting bolt upright staring into
dark whirlpool black hole
feeling its suction

get out of bed
knock at the door of your nearest friend
ask to lie down beside ask to be held

listen while whispered words
turn the hole into deep night sky
stars close together
wintermoon rising over white fields
nearby wren rustling dry leaves
distant owl echoing
two people walking up the road laughing

let your soul laugh
let your heart sigh out
that long held breath so hollow in your stomach
so swollen in your throat

already light is returning pairs of wings
lift softly off your eyelids one by one
each feathered edge clearer between you
and the pearl veil of day

you have nothing to do but live

Posted by: Sherri at May 1, 2005 07:07 PM
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