We are a family of the land. The endlessness of long leaf pines, of blackjack ridges and cypress ponds, of sand hills and palmettos. We are a family whose core and culture resonates and vibrates with the pain the land has inflicted and the beauty it has reflected. Through the decades, all my suffering silences have been poured out upon the land. Its silence absorbed my pain, softened my heart, and told me Whose and who I am.
Years have passed since the shattering news of my granddaughter’s death. She was twenty three, just blooming into life when Life took her. She was like the land, all spread out and beautiful, holding the potential for everything good. It isn’t only this grief, but all of my griefs that haunt me. For so long, there was a void between me and the is-ness of things. My only expression was a gasping that spilled over into tears. I didn’t know that grief is a lump in your throat that you can’t swallow. There’s a slight nausea in the pit of your stomach.
When the concussion of affliction comes, we have to have somewhere to go with our pain, but where? How do we embrace such heavy and horrible pain? How do we make our suffering count? Most people don’t know what to do with their pain, so they run from it rather than sit with it, embrace it, and grow through it. I made a conscious and very disciplined effort to create some uncharted space to be alone-yet not alone-in the silence. I wanted to allow time for my grieving to seep into mourning.
What is at stake here is the life of the Spirit within us. Pain embraced has divine purposes. We must feel the point of the nail piercing, the painful cut grafting. This is part of God’s ongoing process of redemption, dispelling more of our darkness, bringing us bleeding into the Light. Love and pain are two sides of the same coin. How can we ever receive the great consolations the Crucified Christ promises if we refuse to be crucified with Him?
The land never told me that affliction is deeper than pain. The cut is bone deep. You have to experience it to know it. Silence was my salvation. My silence now is filled with Presence and compassion and a stilling that waits to know why.
I sit, watching sun-reflected ripples chase across dark, polished glass. There is a constancy about it, a rhythmic assurance, the ebb and flow of time entering eternity. Each entering depends on the infusion of Light. Somewhere hidden within these ripples of wonder lies the forever deepening mystery of Life-a healing, a merging of spirits, my granddaughter’s and mine; the Spirit of Love setting us both free, holding hands, traveling together among the stars. ~Betty
With gratitude to Sally Chester for the beautiful image of Betty