I went for my weekly sunrise walk with a dear friend this morning. It started a few months ago in lockdown as yoga on the beach (45mins talking, 10mins yoga) but as recent weeks have brought the cold, we have taken to walking, talking and clinging onto steaming mugs of tea and coffee.
Going from the darkness to light was a real tonic to the sobbing of yesterday evening. It’s that time of year for me – birthday week. It’s when we celebrate and I remember the life-changing decisions and moments which surround my son’s birth. So I’m riding those waves of chronic sorrow which comes for living well in a life with irremovable loss. Years of these emotions have taught me I can’t squash or ignore the hard ones.
I need to feel them.
If I want to feel the depth of joy (because there is so much joy) I must also sit in the heartbreak and pain. If I numb one, I will in turn be numbing it all. So here I am with this complex emotions sitting hand in hand. Much like the rest of life, there is little paradox in emotions.
I love listening to the podcast ‘Lockdown Parenting Hell.’ It includes interviews with comedian parents grumbling and joking about the angst and stress of parenting children. Occasionally they pipe in with, “Obviously I love my children and wouldn’t want it any other way – except you know, more sleep.”
“Of course, of course,” is always the response. They don’t have to explain their love just because it is hard. Neither do I. It is the depth of my love that deepens some of the pain.
They are all simply emotions. Sorrow. Joy. Pain. Pride.
Feeling is oh, so tiring though and I’m still learning to give space to be sure I’m not wrung out too far.
Whatever waves wash over you today, I wonder if you could feel them – then look up.
I was reminded this week by the Jen Hatmaker at the Evolving Faith conference of a friend of Jesus who grieved in a garden after his death. She mistook Jesus as the gardener because Jesus was dead – so who else could he be?
In my own darkness and sorrow, I’m grateful to the people in my life who have shown up and look like gardeners – but are actually the deepest form of love, acceptance and belonging. Whether you think much of the man Jesus or not – I suspect you can look around the darkest time and find glimpses of unexpected goodness.
Now that doesn’t mean it is good – it can still be utter crap.
But once again these things are not mutually exclusive, they are not black and white. When we hold the light in darkness, it can be a comfort but beyond our light it might still be night – until the morning sunrise.
Whenever that comes.