grace

I am thinking that this post is more like a PS to yesterday’s. Of course, each one of these posts comes attached to the one before, the threads carried forth, interwoven into one cloth. Whether the cloth is a tapestry that tells a story or a shawl that offers warmth, or both, I cannot say but I shall continue the weaving.

I sat with a soul friend today. The theme of our story-sharing seemed to be living in the face of certain death. Our own encroaching deaths (big and small), the deaths of our loved ones, the ends of seasons of life, the losses of dreams or relationships, the slipping from our grasp the things that brought us to life, the impending end of an era in the life of Earth herself, each came winding their way into our conversation.

The art of living with certain transience invites us to live whole-heartedly right here and right now, to soak it all in while we can, whatever ‘it’ is. Death can also, however, bid us to look back in ‘life inventory’ kinds of ways, to pick up the loose threads of our story and notice how each progressive loss led to another becoming, becomings that we might never have imagined for ourselves had those losses not unraveled our lives in the ways that they did. Despite the spiritual prescriptions that warn us to avoid living in the past or dwelling on the future, the truth is that we are more than just this one moment in time. Each moment of our lives has been interwoven into our being, as does the prospect of our departure encourage us to weave beauty and love, wonder and delight, presence and healing, into our remaining days.

The conversation also came around to Refuge, as that word was fresh on my heart. All of this talk of living a life informed by death encouraged me to take stock of the persons, places and moments that have indeed offered to me that tangible reality, places where I have felt utterly welcomed and completely loved, offering to me a moment of respite from the constant running.

Perhaps you will recognize yourself as one of those places of refuge. The list is longer than I imagined, and I am feeling a bit like the person standing on the stage after winning an award, afraid that I will miss someone that I want to thank. So know that, for you, I am grateful. As I intuited yesterday in that ‘dreaming of paradise lost’, true refuge is not entirely possible when one is alone, outside of relationship. It is not merely an act of escape but one of building a new kind of community.

However, as my friend gently reminded me today, refugees eventually have to reintegrate into the broader world, must make their own way out there somehow. The gifts, skills, and practices gleaned during those days of sheltering presence must be carried forth, abstract as they might soon become in the loss (yet another death) of that sheltering love, at times a faint remembrance only. Perhaps it is, as so many things seem to be in this life, a both/and. We must be learn to offer to ourselves a place of interior refuge when the world outside of us cannot.

And though I still long for a world of utter and complete grace, I also realize that without those places where we are left utterly bereft, our lives would fail to unfold. Grace, perhaps, is what allows us to see it all as beauty.

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