Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sharing Sadness

Jen Lee's recent post resonated with me, as her words often do.

"Maybe this is the sadness that is underneath it all, all of the time."

It has been almost a month since my solo retreat weekend at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford. I know that I promised to share the details of this experience weeks ago, but it's difficult to share what is still in process. I reaffirm that I truly welcomed the opportunity to have the expansive time to and with myself. For meditation. For contemplation. To simply be. But I had no idea what would be coming as a result.

"Perhaps all the activity is just my attempt to outrun it."

The reality of this retreat experience turned out to be very different than my fantasy of it. Rather than basking in the luxury of having nothing to do but be, I was faced with and, honestly, surprised by a tremendous sense of sadness. There was no way to avoid it. I had purposely limited the number of distractions at my disposal. (Seemed like a good idea when I packed.) There was no book to read. No television to watch. No computer at hand. There was no other option but to be with these uncomfortable feelings ... to make them and me a cup of tea and hear what they had to say.

When I slow down, all the things I haven't properly felt along the way are right there like a giant tidal wave arching over my head onto the shore.

My pain. The pain of loved ones. The pain within our world at large. Losses. Changes. Molehills. Mountains. So much to sit with ... but, sooner or later, sit with it all, we must.

Grace comes on its own schedule, but it always comes. I felt lighter the next morning, clearer, and in deep gratitude for having (finally) surrendered to what must have been clamoring for my attention for a very long time. Since returning home, I have been awake to all of the ways that I habitually distract myself from my true feelings, in particular, the heaviest and darkest among them. I try to have the foresight to put on the tea kettle and invite them to stay, rather than looking or busying myself away.

Nope, not easy. Never comfortable. But so much better in the long run than trying to outrun them. Sooner or later, they win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jules, I take that to be the weekend you needed--not the one you fantasized. What a beautiful way to experience and flow with it. All's well is my new mantra. Peace & love, S