Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where the light enters you...

Trust your wound to a teacher's surgery.
Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,
those flies of your self-protecting feelings,
your love for what you think is yours.
Let a teacher wave away the flies
and put a plaster on the wound.
Don't turn your head. Keep looking
at the bandaged wound. That's where
the light enters you.
And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.


Long before we lost Julien, I loved this poem by Rumi.  "Keep looking at the bandaged wound. That's where the light enters you," he says.  I've discussed this poem many times but now that my bandaged places are bleeding through, I feel challenged to look again. 

In the days following Julien's birth, I remember telling myself, "just be present," again and again.  No matter what I was feeling (panic, nausea, hysteria) I knew I had to just stay with it -- to ride it like a horrible, inescapable roller-coaster.  I also kept reminding myself (and our daughter) that the most intense feelings would soon pass.

My dad had just died last year and those memories were all too fresh in my mind.  When Julien passed, I recalled everything I felt with my dad and knew just to hold on to the present moment for dear life.  With a white-knuckle grip, I told myself again and again that each day would get easier -- and it did.

This was a HUGE exercise in both trust and in acceptance.  By letting every emotion wash over me like a river, I think the pain became less intense.  I'm not saying that it doesn't still hurt.  It is to this day the most grueling thing I've ever felt... and turning into the pain sometimes seems like self-immolation.  Still, for me, just being here for all of it feels better than running away from it.

I think Rumi is suggesting that our suffering is our salvation.  Our capacity to feel deep sorrow and profound joy is what defines this human experience... and the two are inseparable.  But is all suffering salvific?  Perhaps.  

Without it, how would we discover grace?

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