This has been the best year of my life… and the worst. The ups and downs have been almost staggering by contrast. At the one end my future is hopeful, filled with grand adventures, new relationships, and sparkling opportunities. On the other is the loss of life as I knew it… both in the form of deceased friends and in the need to let go of “the old way” of doing things.
Both joy and grief have intermingled and both have been acutely felt. Oddly enough, in the midst of these extreme and, oft times, conflicting emotions, a chord is struck. And as I sit here at my laptop, words begin to appear. Expressions of thoughts which are often so deep, they cannot quite be spoken.
Some would attribute this phenomenon with my introverted nature. I learned many years ago that if you sit silently for a long enough period of time, someone else will eventually express your point of view for you. And the less your voice is heard, the more it is respected (or at least listened to) when you have something important to say.
But I think that these words are more than that. Grief, in particular, unlocks something within me that joy cannot. It opens the door of my heart to introspection – to a deeper consideration of those things which I so often take for granted. In grief, I find the root of my joy.
Only in the pain of loss do we recognize the depth of our attachment. It is a striking paradox – as though we must first lose in order to win. Our greatest growth is not found in places of plenty, but in the heat of the desert – where we must faithfully seek for those things which will sustain us.
It is a place of both danger and opportunity. Danger from those thoughts which, if nurtured, have the power to destroy, to dampen joy, to cultivate hopelessness and helplessness, to weaken our resolve. But scattered throughout like an oasis is opportunity – as we examine where we have been, how we have gotten there, and where we are going. Grief is a catalyst for growth… and for change.
A new year is now on the horizon. I don’t know what lies in store, nor do I want to. What I do know is that I may choose what to do with the trials that confront me. I can allow them to cripple me or I can turn them to opportunities. In my grief, I can become more than I am.