This morning, a friend sent me an email and said she was thinking about me during her morning prayer. She had read a reflection about mourning. It was in a daily meditation by the Henri Nouwen Society, http://www.henrinouwen.org. There was a part that put words around some feelings I’ve been having the last week.
We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness – they belong together…
The words grabbed me. They reached inside my heart and pulled out a way to verbalize feelings that have been rolling around inside me looking to escape. I am always so happy when the jumbled up stuff in my heart finds a safe way to express itself.
Last week, I finished my master’s program. I have really been looking forward to completing this. I am looking forward to more free time, reading books for pleasure again, and well just having a few more moments to myself and moments to share with my boys. I set a goal. I achieved that goal. I thought it would feel so marvelous.
Then I came home after class last week. The house was still lonely at night. The kids were still the kids. The dishes were still waiting. I felt the pride of accomplishment wither out of me. There was no one to share it with really. No one who had witnessed to this accomplishment from start to finish the way he would have watched. It was just me and my new master’s degree. No one to say, “hey, I’m so proud of you”, no one to utter, “nice work” or “I knew you could do this.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though I did this for myself, somehow it felt shallow, somehow it felt like…well, it felt like no big deal.
Then I read the reflection that my friend sent this morning. That was it. It was the dancing and the mourning. It was the celebration and the deep sadness…all in my heart, all in my mind, all a part of me and my experience. An “aha” moment! It’s ok to feel like dancing then like crying. It’s ok to feel proud of my accomplishment and deep sorrow that no one saw all in one breath…it is ok. I’m ok.
Next month will be the seventh anniversary of Dave’s death. At the end of next month, I will dutifully march into year eight…forever changed, forever marked by him, by his love, by his death. Every new moment when I feel that feeling that I can’t put my finger on…and then “aha” there it is again…dancing, grieving, dancing, grieving…
I will continue to leave my heart open. I will continue to look for the way to become who I am to become. I will dance. I will grieve…and through it all…I will be ok.
Here is the complete meditation my friend sent today-
Where Mourning and Dancing Touch Each Other
“[There is] a time for mourning, a time for dancing” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their “times” do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their “times” may become one “time.” Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts.
Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. We lose a beloved friend, and in the midst of our tears we discover an unknown joy. We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness – they belong together as the sad-faced clown and the happy-faced clown, who make us both cry and laugh. Let’s trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.