A Storm of Light

I wake inside of a storm.

What day is it?

The wind moves the whole forest while the rain splashes down in applause.

Am I in a dream or a storm or in eternity?

This is my life, every morning, while all of me searches for you in every aspect of every day.

I journal my thoughts and try again to unravel just a bit more of the chaos, allow anger and emptiness their rightful space. Inhale from the depths of the earth, allow that wind to kindle my heart, then exhale light and love asking them to cascade over my aching being.

I’m still learning how to breathe.

I am finding kindred spirits on this journey, honest comfort for my soul. Beautiful friends and family have been a priceless source of comfort, while my mind and soul have searched and longed for trusted teachers to accompany me, to guide me with experienced wisdom.

Last night this need was met with reminders of how to continue to express and engage in love.

This morning I listened and then recorded these words.

“Gradually, you will learn acquaintance

With the invisible form of your departed;

And, when the work of grief is done,

The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned

To wean your eyes

From that gap in the air

And be able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return

All the time.”

By John O’Donohue

Breathe again. Kiss your pillow. Start the day.

The practice of creating a shrine or an ofrenda is not something I ever imagined doing for my Love, and yet I have since he passed. This season I hadn’t yet decorated it. This wise woman explained how helpful and comforting the practice is and I realized I had stopped. You see, while everyone has been decorating Christmas trees and making wreaths, it’s a little challenging to be enthusiastic about decorating a shrine until…. I hear someone who knows and understands just how important this is.

I follow my heart and feel you near as I cut branches in the rain, my tears and heavens intermingled.

I bring out the Madonna and Child you bought me from the shop on the top of the a Vatican. I am pregnant with our oldest daughter, feeling surely I was dreaming to be in this life on top of the world so loved and cared for by you.

I imagine a natural background for Mary and find a photo of you in your vineyard. I was certain I wanted it printed large months ago. I breathe in that certainty. I need a frame. As an artist, I have random frames tucked here and there. Down on my knees I see one that is the right size. A painting has slipped out of my drawer. Out of a stack of dozens. this is the one.

You are here.

You were here when I painted this- I felt strongly about the passionate love pouring out of my heart, that truth and love, integrity and compassion, protection and justice all emanate from the same place. I didn’t have words to explain the image, but it was painted from a truth within my soul, my heart so full of God’s light and love.

Today it hung there mysteriously waiting for me like a knowing message from you, an image of the ancient poem that started my morning with comfort, declaring the truth you are here in the hearth of my soul.

You are here.

The frame contains a fabric collage that has hung on various walls, my baby shirt my grandmother made, a cross your godmother crocheted for us, flowers that crowned our daughter’s heads. So much love and beauty I've tried to gather and hold onto. I carefully set them aside and place the photo of you in it. I’m grateful for these reminders, these simple treasures.

I gather angels to surround the mother and child and capture you amazed by her light.

I chose this angel to top our enormous wedding cake. Elegant blown glass was a popular topper when we got married, but I was more than certain I wanted a simple Angel made of clay which I adorned with a halo of rosebuds. He was the proper symbol to crown the celebration of our marriage. Earthy and heavenly, gentle and peaceful. He’s lived in various glass cabinets over the years, becoming more tucked away as life passed.

Today I added dried roses fragrant with grief from this past year to freshen his halo. As I did, he seemed to remind me of my own certainty, of this season, when we started our journey, of the blinding angelic light I saw surround you as you carried my son on your shoulders all those years ago.

I have experienced heavenly light because of you. I have lacked a framework, words and my own agency to explain it. I am continuing to discover and uncover this light within. Instead of chaos my thoughts and yours are intertwined in a beautiful tapestry as I create this deeply meaningful shrine.

I light a candle and embrace our Angel with your grape tendrils and the pearls you gave me my first Mother’s Day. My whole being is refreshed by the reminder of how consistently you marveled at the sacredness of motherhood in me.

Are you here? Why am I here?

I look up, out the window your ladder has been tipped by the storm, leaning precariously against the rail. How did the wind accomplish this? Blowing through empty spaces it seems to have accomplished the impossible.

I step into the storm again to right it.

You step into my storm and steady my steps offering guidance and truth, blowing through the empty spaces you right my spirit.

I’ve finished and find I’ve created something akin to Bernini’s St. Teresa of Avila's ecstasy. You led me here into this space where you are, piercing my heart with the reality of timelessness and sacred presence and I long to stay. This is what the mystics describe as heavenly longing, a Oneness beyond description, eternal light and love, God with and within us. Immanuel.

You are missed and you are here.

sunset 12/23/2021