“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
I’ve found much companionship listening to Rob Bell lately. He loves surfing and talks about it in depth during one recent podcast. He talks about getting pulled under by a massive wave that just wont stop. Feet over head, head over feet, not knowing which way is up or down or how you just can’t stop spinning. Somewhere attached to you is your board which, if it hits you, will probably knock you right out. You can’t catch a breath and the fear of that is utterly terrifying, having no idea when the spinning and crushing waves will stop. Finally you pop up and are able to catch a little breath and then without warning, pulled back under for round two.
That is exactly what grief feels like. “When the hell is this crushing, spinning, terrifyingly empty thing going to end? When will I catch my breath? Will I even be able to or will I somehow die here?” Rob talks about how the worst thing you can do is fight it and work against it, because you're only losing precious energy. You can’t fight against a bizillion pounds of water against your small body. You can’t fight against the elephant-like weight of grief sitting directly on your chest - you'll only exhaust yourself more. You must let yourself be in it and not fight against it all. You must ride the wave, so to speak until it eventually calms. Because, eventually, (who knows when; and when you’re in it, it feels like it will never end), but eventually, it will end. And you’ll pop up back into the air and calm of the swaying ocean. Your head and heart will pop back up into the sunshine and beauty and hope of life again.
Last week my therapist said (she's very much into holistic living and essential oils and alternative medicine… yes!), that her little Chinese doctor says that we hold our grief in our lungs. Physically. In our lungs. I said out loud how through the years I have wondered why my lungs feel weaker and weaker each year. She said, “Your body has been crying out for years that the weight of the grief is taking its toll on you. Listen to your body, Carly, it speaks tenderly to you.” It’s all so very connected. Doesn’t it feel exactly true? That dark feeling in grief of not being able to catch your breath? Where you’re just crying out for a deep gulp of air to get circulation going back in your brain and heart. It’s all physical. It’s all connected. It’s all tied together.
(She’s going to connect me with an old Chinese medicine man that has special herbs for helping your lungs release grief physically. Let this little Eat, Pray, Love journey begin!)
I've had Pieces by Amanda Cook on repeat the last week. The chorus sings, "You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us". During another fitful night of endless longing and a tear-stained face, my spirit felt the whisper of The Spirit saying "I don’t give my heart in pieces Carly, and I don’t want your heart to live in pieces either. The wholeness of Me, will bring into fullness, the wholeness of you; let me give my heart to you."
I don’t want to keep walking this earth with a heart in pieces anymore. So, inch by inch, day by day, breath by breath, sob by sob, I’m trying to let the waves crash around me, even when I want to panic, even when I feel like they will never stop and I’ve cried and screamed over everything enough. I will lean into the pain, lean into the waves and find the wholeness and goodness of the Spirit in those places and know, someday, maybe not today, or tomorrow, or even a month from now, the waves will be at peace again, and I will bob up on top of it all again.
My mom sent me this C.S. Lewis poem recently and it just spoke to me in such tenderness and truth. Even in the pain and brokenness, the truth of the Holy Spirit remains.
The Naked Seed:
My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run
With longing, are in me
Dried up. In all my countryside there is not one
That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
Except the moment's vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment's want
And to be free of pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
Watch for me while I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul's interior Form, though now
Deep-buried, will not die,
—No more than the insensible dropp'd seed which grows
Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
Sweet influence still on earth,
—Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
Still turning round the earth.