Grief & Doubt as Doorway to Awakening Your Gift
Ronda's Reflections on The Gift within Grief (Through Meeting Aging Parents in Decline)
Returning from a month long wintertime stay in Upstate NY with my - "all of a sudden now" - elderly parents, I continue to reflect on the "absurdities" and "indignities" and "way challenging demands" of turning old and no longer having the same mental clarity and function, physical abilities, and independent ease of life-making.
What a passage, is growing old... with it's turning inward and dropping down through so many losses of an earlier life: loss of hearing; dimming eyesight; forgetting names, directions, memories...
And I wonder: When (and if) I reach my parents near 90 years stage in life, will I have the capacity and the graciousness to meet it with gentleness, humor, and a wisdom in letting go? I sure to God hope and pray I do.
Through experiencing the daily living and decline of my parents this past winter, I have been forced to meet my own mortality and the limits of self control in ways I don't feel at all prepared to meet! (Are we ever wholly prepared for life's challenges?)
This holiday season and it's extended stay, Matt and I experienced - up close and personal - what life is like when the mind tumbles toward dementia; when getting through the day becomes a chore of meeting up against one's own limits of faculty.
I've felt the stunning sting of my father becoming bitter and beliferent and down right unkind to those trying to help him as unobtrusively as possible. I've seen my mother become deeply saddened - struggling to keep a spirit of joy - as her best friend since childhood and her husband of some 66 years, sleeps most all day in his chair.
...And I've watched myself as I meet these two - now as their provider/helper more than their daughter. They are not the mother and father I knew growing up. Yet they are my parents. I know them -- And yet I don't recognize them.
Many of you, I know, have faced this with your parents already. Many of you are further down this road than I. I am in awe of your journey. I am stunned awake at what this life stage of caring for our end-of-life parents, invites each one of us to wrestle with and to meet within ourselves.
To me, in many ways, this era can feel brutal: Brutal, in so much as it seemingly takes away or invades my one last hurrah at this later primetime of life where I have my highest degree of inner and outer freedom. There's a feeling of ah, finally my time has come!. ...And, at the same time, I am aware of a mirror facing me down through the eyes of my parents in the last years of life ...and I wrestle with how I will meet the call to care for them emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually.
I think too, of all the precious people who have come to work with me; those many who have experienced and sustained far greater difficulties and losses than elder parents in their last years of living. Clients who have come after the premature sudden death of a husband; or the long drawn out slow dying and withering away of a young boy with an incurable disease. These are places of true devastating wilderness of the heart, mind, body and spirit. And yet...
...And yet I have witnessed these women and men come to sit with me from a place of being completely spent, flayed open and raw with grief. I have seen these brave Angels of Love turn hopelessly to Soul as we step together into the holy art of finding and embracing the Gift within such an unending wound!
In all the years now that I have been honored to offer my gift as teacher and guide for people facing their Dark Night of Soul losses, confusions, grievances and hopelessness, I have come to know from direct experience this one beacon of truth: There is a Gift within all grief. Grief itself is the very depth and breadth of Love trying to come through in the only way it can at certain times in our life.
Facing grief consciously is not an easy path to follow - and few will take it. Fewer still will follow all the way to reveal what the mystics, seers, and poets have shined a light on throughout the ages.
These wisdom teachers have suffered, opened, inquiried, and found the music - the muse - that lies in wait within each place of loss or pain. They have uncovered the hidden gift within the wound and it's pathway to a greater awakening of heart.
Grief that is vulnerably, yet courageously, met reveals what it is to live in the paradox of each inhale and exhale... of what it takes to walk the talk of each step along a life journey that is truly met.
To those who will meet each fear, loss, and separation along the pathways of life from a fierce vulnerable openness and creative inquiry --is the gift of realizing each moment in life as living prayer; to live as meditation in action; to give life the supreme gift of your own humble magnificence of being!
This healing reclamation of Soul is the (only) reason I offer the life work which I never expected nor intended to become my life path. You see, my own special mentoring gift comes from the ashes of my own earlier suffering, struggles, studies, vulnerabilities ...and the awakening art of dialoguing with the emergent Soul's wisdom.
And so it is to this: to the hero and heroines journey, that I find myself in utter awe, and that I bow to each one of you who will face and find your own paradoxical healing, freedom and liberation which is miraculously found through the portals of grief, loss and despair when they are recognized and expressed as Your Being - in Love.
To those with the poetry of struggle in their hearts: You are the Gift. And that Gift is your awakening to the humble magnificent expression of your soul's own unique genius, path and purpose.
* I dedicate this current of ongoing reflection to my mother and father for all that they instilled in me: The beautiful, the spirit-filled, and the neurotic - all of which somehow helped me find the soul to look "eyes wide open" at it all ...until that Seeing brings me Home in Truth and Love... AHO