“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” C.S.Lewis
“That doesn’t have to be your story.”
A dear friend spoke those words to me and I’ve been contemplating them ever since.
Sometimes we make choices to make something happen and sometimes things just happen to us. Either way I’ve chosen to try my best to understand whatever happenings I’m in the middle of. To this end I’ve devoured books and articles on a myriad of subjects.
Currently the stacks of books are about grief and loss as I try to somehow find my bearings and understand what it is that I’m living through. While there is no stopping or avoiding the most unimaginable storm I have ever faced , at least I can have a clue about what is coming.
I’ve been reading other people’s stories, and learning about what suffering, grief and mourning look like. It is clear our culture is largely grief illiterate. Traumatized, disengaged, materialistic, narcissistic, lack of specific education and being unaware are just some possible reasons we are lost when faced with comforting a grieving person, or understanding our own grief.
I discovered for a large percentage of widows, the second year is harder. That is terrifying to me. Because thus far, this pain has been excruciating.
I shared this with my friend.
It doesn’t have to be your story.
What even is my story?
I haven’t written in a few days because my mind has been blank, literally numb, in response to another tragedy, another loss, which affected my son and our neighbors.
This morning I found I was ready to write, to journal, to have that conversation with God.
Lord, please, tell me about my story.
Some of my conversations with God are the best kind of conversations I could hope to have. They are the kind where both participants listen, both share, and I walk away better and with more to think about and grow in. They are the kind that make me look forward to the next visit.
But, how do I journal about last night? There are no images or words to explain what I was in. I felt my husband's presence, and experienced an indescribable heavenly peace. My spirit longed to stay in that place. Waking the struggle to stay eluding me, as I encountered the heart of God.
I considered the previous day, what I had read and listened to, the artwork that I had put my hand to, what I had eaten, wondering if any or all of these had contributed to this beautiful experience. Was it the prayers of those who have carried me that awakened my spirit or the ideas ruminating in my heart and mind?
I felt my soul running its fingers over the quiet softness of the night and day intertwined, trusting the intricate weave of the Creator in this day, and in each day of my life. This date is a unique thread interlaced through the tapestry of my life.
What was I doing on this day one year ago?
A simple scroll through my photos answered my soul’s question. Our daughter and I were driving our new car through miles of fruit trees in full bloom.
It’s one of the most glorious gifts of springtime to be enveloped in a grove, bursting with buds . Since childhood there is an ecstasy which literally permeates my whole being at the sight of a blooming orchard. We stopped and walked under the blossom laden branches, breathing in the fragrance and the magic.
Sorting through the images, I found a heart shaped silhouette drawn by the tree canopy. Taken in by the soft shades of rose and gray, I stared at the image feeling as if I were gazing in the mirror at the colors of my being.
Misty gray and faded rose. Tearful sadness and dreams dissolved.
Slowly, green hills far off in the distance came into view. At any point in my life, if I were asked to imagine heaven, this would be the image. I stood in it then, and I was still feeling it now, being in the Father’s heart.
The heavenly image reminded me of the movie Shadowlands. The first movie he and I watched together as a couple.
As if in a dream, I picked up my old journal and followed the thread, turning the pages to February 25th. It was exactly to the date in 1994 that we watched Shadowlands.
27 years ago, when I was 27 and he was 27 and we were falling in love. I had no idea who C.S.Lewis was, or how he would influence my thoughts and faith through his writings. I never thought to add 27 and 27 together and wonder what 54 would mean to us someday. Preferring art over arithmetic I reluctantly let the numbers truthfully scribble themselves over our story. There are no similes or synonyms for these precise numbers. They write their own honest poetry, proving the abstract, looping themselves through the mesh of our love story.
The kids watched the movie with me. It’s the love story of C.S.Lewis and Joy Davidman. As friends, they married so she could retain citizenship in England. He realizes he loves her only after he finds out she’s dying. She encourages him to go on an adventure to find the “Golden Valley”, a framed landscape he took to be heaven in his childhood. On their honeymoon they find the valley, whose actual name is “Wet Valley”. They walk through the pouring rain in the Shadowlands where she honestly shares the depth of her heart with him. The pain he will experience when she leaves is part of the joy now- it’s all the same thing.
The brilliance of sweet joyful intimacy and the tear drenched agony of grief are both found in the same place. The Golden Valley and the Shadowlands are both saturated and shining, undeniably located in the loving heart of God. This is where I have been invited to reside.
This morning I woke from a dream,
I listened to my soul,
I waited for God to lead me into his heart,
I didn’t try to figure any of this out,
I just witnessed the unfolding of the tapestry of time,
of love and loss.
This is my story. ****
“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” ― C.S. Lewis
Celebrating 50 in Italy
When we were falling in love.
Dating, on our way to a wonderful evening, a Murder Mystery costume party with friends .
What does it mean to be 54?
Fifty and four- An equation,
an innocent childhood destiny
What does it mean to be four ?
It means trusting in the simpleness of life
everything around you
feeling the coolness of air
the warmth of parents who are there.
What does it mean to be 14?
Four and 10 confusion
Am I good?
Am I bad?
Am I a child?
Am I grown-up?
Do I speak?
Do I stay silent?
Do I even know or understand anything?
What does it mean to be 24?
I thought I was grown-up
but I’m just a bunch of broken pieces.
I’m an adult carrying all my childhood pain
mysteries I can’t even understand.
What does it mean to be 34?
A lover, a mother, so close to grasping peace,
holding sweet beautiful life, tenderness all around me
still feeling so young and yet finally grown-up.
What does it mean to be 44?
I found my space
We found our place we’ve made memories
finally become one we’ve traveled the world.
Embraced all that’s ours.
What does it mean to be 54?
It means being in a space that you held, an age we celebrated for you
It means being in time without you
Becoming older than you
It means grasping and gasping
It means choking and provoking
It’s timeless and heavy
It’s ancient and angry
What would it mean to be 64 or 74 or 84?
Well I could ask our parents or others
each of them could answer me -
but I’d have to Want
to raise my voice out of this deep dark abyss
to hear what it means
to live longer without you.
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
― C.S. Lewis
"I was overwhelmed last night as I drove home under a completely rose colored, cloud covered sky, while the landscape was miles of orchards bursting with blossoms! I wished I could have stopped and danced!! Such a beautiful time to drive 120 through the orchards."
from my journal entry of March 4, 2013