Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may bot see it when it's sticking to your skin
but we're better off for all that we let in.
~ The Indigo Girls
Grief has a way of shutting me down. It can suck all the energy out of me and my day. These holidays feel so darn tender this year and my grief feels like it is front and center. Hours of most everyday it feels impossibly hard when I try to stay connected. Holiday traditions. Holidays carols. Holiday gatherings. All bring memories that just feel so very raw this year. And yet, the holidays here and so are we.
God bless the Indigo Girls, Emily and Amy. God bless them for their singing and their spirit, for their creativity and passion, for their courage and justice-driven legacy. And God bless them for this song, "All that we let in." This song resonates with my grieving spirit. This song names it, claims it and nudges me on.
These words meet me where I am. When my grieving brings me to a place of "sitting this one out," of not having the energy to engage with the world for one more minute, these words enter in. There is something so very powerful about letting the world back in. I don't know if it's my woundedness, or if it's self-preservation, but when I am grieving I watch myself only building walls, shutting myself off from what is happening around me. And here comes this song, inviting me to take another tack. What happens if instead of using all my energy shutting everything out, what happens if instead, I let more in? What would shift for me?
I remember back in 2004 driving Mom back from the oncologist. We'd just been told, "There's nothing else we can do." I remember gripping the steering wheel, wishing there was something that I could say to her. Out from my mouth came, "Mom, I want you to read Psalm 139 three times when you get home, but not verses 19-22." And after a minute or so, Mom started laughing. I looked at her and asked if she was laughing about not reading verses 19-22. And she said, "Is that the `fearfully and wonderful made' Psalm?" I nodded yes and she said, "Oh honey, I've got clubbed toes, a new hip, stenosis in my back, my gums are shot, I'm blind in one eye, you girls keep saying that I can't hear and now this lung cancer. The `fearfully' part, I got. I'm interested in the `wonderfully' part."
And she did just that for her nine months, Mom stayed interested in the wonderfully part of the remaining days of her life.
Mom got it. She understood. Even in, especially in the middle of her deepest grief and fearful places, Mom knew in her heart of hearts that she was, that we all were better off for all that we let in. These words are not a decree, we can't be ordered to open our hearts up to what is all around us. These words are a simple invitation. Mom knew deep in her bones the preciousness of moments and she wanted to drink deeply from that well. Her final lesson to me returns when my heart is hurting. I can still feel how tightly my hands were gripping the steering wheel, how I was afraid to cry because I thought I would not never stop. I still remember...and her words continue to hold my heart. Thanks, Mom. Today I'm going to be intentional about being interested in the wonderfully part.