my soul in silence waits- day 6- refuge


This day, I am invited to pour it out, to let it be both spoken and heard, expressed and received, to let myself be vulnerable, my fears and griefs, my despair even, be unguarded (can it ever truly be guarded, after all?…there is no defense, merely the illusion of it), to let myself be human, in other words.

Funny, I woke thinking about human suffering – not so much my own, though I am certain there is a connection- but the suffering in this world. I’ve been quite ill this week, and so, when the piercing headache behind my eyes and extreme fatigue would not allow me to lift even a book to be read, I found myself turning to Netflix, binging upon episodes of Call the Midwife. Its setting is right in the seat of human suffering (and so joy, of course, too), in the midst of poverty, where a group of women seek to offer solace, comfort, strength, hope, and grace along with their set of practical skills. Sisters of Mercy.

There was a line somewhere in one of the episodes I watched last night before bed. I can’t even recall the exact words—something about human brokenness- about our fractured or frail existence, but it opened a door in me through which to enter, to cease merely being an observer, to acknowledge and  feel the brokenness.

I don’t know if ‘broken’ is quite the right word, for it seems there is nothing necessarily ‘broken’ about it, as if there would be an opposite that did not include suffering which could be called ‘intact’.  It simply IS part of the whole of being human. There is pain. There is grief. I don’t know if that means there must be suffering and despair, though. Which is simply reality, and which is our response to it?

 However, for some, it seems that pain is the whole of it, with no, or few, glimpses of joy, or hope, or love and for these my heart breaks. And I wonder where I might place myself in the midst of that suffering to offer some mercy…

Anyway, I woke thinking of that. I also woke thinking about my mother, as the setting of this series is during the years that she was a young mother, birthing me and my sisters into that world in which women’s and girls’ lives were proscribed. I thought of her own struggle, having caught glimpses of her fear and her shame, the coldness of her protected heart, in the eyes of some of these characters. I have understood how her world must have both formed and informed her. I’ve recalled her response to my own pregnancy as a young girl, how it must have filled her with fear and despair and caused her to walk away… (and this is the understanding of betrayal, or which I spoke yesterday)

Anyway, I also woke this morning thinking about how ‘easy’ my life is, how easy it is sitting in this place of security to speak of Deep Hope and contentment with the way it is, no matter how hard won is my All is Well. If my story had turned out differently, if there had been no mercy, no grace, no relief, would I be able to express such ‘truths’ ? And again, I found myself wanting to place myself somewhere in the midst of human need, of human suffering, to offer myself as such mercy.

But, even this is not the point of today’s exercise. Its invitation is clearly to let myself crawl into that lap, to pour out my own pain or fear or despair… or confession…to be held and received. My fear of not- enoughness, or not good-enoughness, of course, is peeking through these veiled words. My own shame, perhaps.

I was surprised, however, when re-reading the questions for self inquiry, to find the invitation to also express one’s joy into that place of refuge. Yes, even our joy can be a source of shame. As if to reveal it is to open it to ridicule, scorn, reprisal or even harm. This too is a symptom of our brokenness. We are not allowed to invite Joy into the wholeness of being Human any more than we are allowed to acknowledge suffering.

If there is a heaviness this morning, a lingering darkness, it is the pain of my own child. Her fear of being unlovable, in the end, of being alone. Her pain flows less like a torrent now than once it did, but it still spills forth from where she keeps it at bay when she gets too full. I receive that overflow, as best I can, trying to keep my own guilt at bay. I would give away all of my contentment for her to know peace. IF I could draw from that energy of Love that undergirds me, divert its channel fully into her life, I would. OF course, I try, and it seems that only the sorrow is shared. It flows back to me and I carry it forth. At times, I am merely drained, though far less than once, in the end. Then, I must let go, into Trust in a Love that is far bigger than me. And then, the fatigue of it, this draining of me, makes the voice in me mock me. It derides me, saying ‘who do you think you’re kidding, imagining yourself as a conduit of mercy and grace’.

Of course, these journal entries are the place where I also find refuge, where I can pour myself out and be received, offering solace to myself. And/but, of course this is not at all the same as making myself vulnerable to another, as receiving the solace that another human heart can offer. Certainly, when I choose to post them publicly, that is a type of vulnerability, an exposure to air, a proclaiming of my own flawed humanity, my own brokenness. And I have heard, from time to time, from a few that my honesty here offers them solace as well, in the communion they experience in my sharing.

Perhaps there is mercy and grace here in this seat of refuge.

This is my hope.

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