Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grief: Signs and Wonders

Some people have an organized faith that hopefully gives them strength and support.  Some people have faith that comes from their own spirituality.  Some people are atheists.  I am a skeptic whose belief in something other seems to increase daily.  Signs and wonders are everywhere.  It is up to each person whether they notice them or not.

I am writing about this because of three things that happened to me recently.  I got an e-mail from a poet friend who was visiting New York City.  She was sitting with someone on a bench in Central Park chatting and eating a hot dog.  Before they left they turned around to read the plaque on the bench.  It said, "Artie and Jan Warner, Mr. Dazzle and Mrs. Panache, I love you, You're my heart. Always."  Central Park is huge.  There are many, many benches.  What are the odds that they would be sitting on the one with the plaque I had put on for Artie when he died?  Was it a coincidence?  Was it a sign?  It was certainly a wonder.  It gave me chills - in a good way.  That was my favorite thing he said to me, "I love you. You're my heart."

I have changed one of my behaviors (drum roll please!).  Most mornings when I get up instead of turning on the television and being depressed by the news I have been reading.  I read from This I Believe, a book of short statements from people about what they believe in that inspires them.  I read part of Finding Sarah - the book that the Duchess of York sent me - which details how she began to find her true self.  In the chapter I was reading in her book she included the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  While I have always found this so meaningful - I had quite forgotten about it.  That's not the weird thing.  Immediately after than I began reading the book Sharon Tate's family wrote about how the Manson murders have affected them their whole lives.  There it was again:  the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.   For those of you who don't know it - here it is:

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

It doesn't matter what religion you are - or if you have no religion.  This prayer is a road map for how to live.  It's not always easy.  I'm in an anger loop with someone at the moment and need to let it go. Sometimes I don't have the energy or the willingness to to live like this - but it is always something for me to aspire to.

Thirdly - I was lucky enough to have a dear friend invite myself, my daughter, and my granddaughter to her house at the sea shore.  Before I went I did my normal, what if I have a bad time? silliness.  Why can't I expect to have a good time?  I did actually have a wonderful time.  When I went out on the beach with my granddaughter in the morning before the others joined us I could feel Artie all around me.  I could feel my husband in every grain of sand, in every drop of water in every wave, in the blueness of the sky and the brightness of the sun.  I fell sad and happy, comforted and discontented, lonely and very loved.  I let all those emotions rush through me and then went back to throwing sand in my granddaughter's bucket.

My bedroom is painted black.  There is very little light in there.  I like to spend time there.  Maybe too much time.  Sometimes it seems as if since Artie died all the beauty in the world is too painful to see.  That's okay, as long as I move out of that space.  If I never close my eyes they will be irritated.  However, if I never open my eyes I will miss so much.

I have described rather big signs and wonders.  Sometimes a sign or a wonder is a simple as the taste of a sweet strawberry or a smile on a stranger's face.  The thing a small child teaches us is that there is wonder in almost everything.  How do we, as adults, reclaim that sense of newness and curiosity.

I will say to myself every day - and perhaps you can to - I know where my pain is...where is my wonder?  What am I not seeing because my mind is jumping about telling me only sad stories.  Dear mind, tell me happy stories.  Dear eyes, open to the beauty in the world.  Touch, taste, hearing, smell as well.  Even if I think - Oh Artie - why I am not sharing this with you - Oh Artie - I am sharing it with you.  I see your smile as it was - and now - I feel you everywhere. That is the biggest wonder of all.  How can someone who died be nowhere and everywhere at the same time?  I don't need to answer that question...just breathe in the mystery.  xo

1 comment:

  1. Jan, There is a sign/wonder in your post for me. You mentioned the smile of a stranger. I had that experience days after my beloved friend died. I was driving and was stopped at a light. There was a man standing on a corner. I hadn't noticed him. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a movement. When I looked, he was standing there, looking similarly like my love. He nodded his head and smiled at me...a knowing smile. I always thought there was something to that but, like you, I am skeptical. Seeing this on your blog is more or less confirmation for me that it was my Richard letting me know he was ok and that I should TRY to be okay, too. Thank you. Can't wait to read the rest of your blog.