Embracing the Ebb
I am driving home on a delightfully secluded highway, enjoying the greening of the fields around me, the radio is playing the random selections of a satellite radio station when a wave of ache washes over me leaving a trickle of tears in its wake. There had been nothing to ‘trigger’ the abrupt yearning for a snippet of Errol’s quirky humor, his infectious giggle, his room-lighting smile, his cozy hugs… but there I was in full-blown ebb-mode. Through the blur of gentle tears, I reach to change the radio to a Rap/Hip-Hop station and rest my hand, palm up atop the gear shifter as I frequently do when on a road trip with my boys, to invite them to clasp hands for a moment of connection. I shift my focus point from my brain-centric mind to my soul-centric mind which, to me feels like a space just above the center of my head and I can sense Errol’s presence with me. My palm still aches to feel his soft, warm hand clasped in mine but the ‘Errolness’ that fills the cab is comforting. I know he is there with me.
“I love you,” I say to the palpable presence.
“Love you,” the words inside my mind somehow carry the gentleness of the smile that is only Errol’s.
“I miss you,” tears gush at the admission.
“I know…” the response feels like it is draped in compassion. “…but it’s ok.”
“I know,” I respond, the knowledge that everything that I am experiencing is essential, that there is a purpose and that by approaching it all with acceptance, love, and gratitude, I am growing. I am aware too that this moment, ache-drenched though it is, is deeply, exquisitely, fundamentally beautiful.
Last week I spoke about approaching moments of ebbing with reverence, about finding a space to experience them that is not oppressive. This week I wanted to begin sharing how I got to this place and will follow with a conversation on how I honor the privilege of the ebbing moments in future posts.
After Errol passed from this realm it was over a year before the thick cocoon of numbness began to melt away, leaving me to begin wondering how to deal with my grief. Honestly, I was at a loss. While I had faced grief before, it had never reached into the very core of me to tear at the foundation of my identity. I was floundering, battling with enormous guilt and anger. I didn’t have the resources within myself to even begin to process and heal so I reached outward.
I am very fortunate to have always been a willing student of the universe. I am blessed with an open mind and heart. The first big premise that began guiding me was a seemingly simple Bible verse that I have come to realize is absolutely loaded with depth of meaning. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” This passage just sort-of floated to me and returns often to my mind. When I thought to look up the context of this simple verse, it became obvious why it was sent to me. In this Psalm, the writer is painting a picture of a veritable apocalyptic situation – natural and man-made disasters abound and in the midst of it, God calls out in God’s still, small voice and says, “My beloved goofballs, kindly stop your running around, chaotically adding to the turmoil. If you would just take a moment to remember the one key Truth, it is all that you need to do. Remember that I am God. I am your loving creator and protector, and I am always right there with you. In 8 simple little words, God compresses so much meaning – so many key, central Truths that it is really all we need to remember.
I will often return to pull more and more golden threads of Truth from this little passage, but the one that first came to me is that all I needed to do in the middle of all the overwhelming emotions was just to let God provide. So, I sat back, and information just began flowing to me in the perfect order and at the perfect times.
One of the resources that came to me was a book called “The Warrior Heart Practice” by HeatherAsh Amara. This book brought me a great deal of healing, though most of it came at a great psychological price as most deep psyche healing does. Like most people, I have a tendency to tell myself all sorts of stories and often-times the stories become much bigger than the reality and usually deviate quite dramatically from fact. The process described in this book encourages us to sit with emotions to determine exactly what we are feeling then ask ourselves what stories from the past or present are fueling the emotion. Next, we ask whether we actually know the stories are true before we begin to work backwards through the process, unknotting the ties that untrue stories had over us and allowing healing of the artificially triggered emotions. Finally, we sit with the original emotion again, accepting it for what it really is and that it has a place in our life. This is a grotesquely over-simplified explanation of the process Heather presents, but it is the gist of it, and I do encourage you to consider reading the book yourself.
Along with the tools gleaned from “The Warrior Heart Practice”, I joined it with one of my central beliefs about life. That is that I believe we are living these specific lives for a reason. Each and every event, emotion, and decision plays a part in our Purpose. So, to condense that all down into how that helps me approach the ebbing times in a place of subdued brilliance rather than oppressive darkness: Most importantly I believe that God’s ‘got this’. God has created us to be amazing immortal souls in God’s likeness, so we have nothing to fear. We can accept the pain of grief because we know it will not destroy us and that it has purpose – even though we likely don’t know what the purpose may be. To add a glow of warmth to the sanctuary where we address our ebbing times, we recognize that in remembering, in experiencing the ache, we are paying the worthy price of loving. As these foundational Truths gain ground, taking root in our world view, it becomes easier to open the door to our sanctuary of remembrance and welcome the wandering gusts of life that urge us into an ebbing pool.