Wonder and Grief

Ben Jackson Sheep in Heart Formation: Tribute to his Aunt Debby

My child is one of my most gifted teachers.  Not because he’s extraordinary, rather his gifts lay in his relationship to the ordinary.  My child is young enough to still have wonder informing his everyday world.  Over the past week I have been consciously witnessing his relationship to grief and how this relates to his sense of wonder.  They are so clearly interrelated in him.

This wasn’t a random choice to watch both of these parts of his childhood.  I’ve been studying/practicing grief for three years as a conscious reclaiming of this portion of my being human that was demonized in a combined effort by my protestant family, my own midwestern culture where I grew up and also by phony modern spiritualism.  I live in a culture that has no room for grief.  Grief requires a slowing that the machines of capitalism haven’t the time to afford.  Grief requires community and the more isolated we become in modern culture, the more difficult the high watch, a sacred beholder is to find.  Deep grief is not a job to take on alone.  Now you may ask why practice grief?  That sounds like a miserable way to start the day.  Lets focus instead on our high vibration emotions!!!!  I dare you to find grief on the emotional vibrancy charts. I am going to say this flat out: emotional vibration charts are actual fake bullsh*t AND they do damage to the practice of being human by assigning native emotions comparative values and then ranking them. This is utterly absurd. If you need more help understanding this please read Rumi, The Guest House.  

Grief is one of the most holy things we get to feel and experience as human beings.  As Martín Prechtal says, “Grief is praise.”  When we grieve the ones that are no longer here, we are praising the life and love they gave us, the places they touched our lives.  When we stop and allow the grief of war or environmental damage to touch us, we begin to mobilize for change.  If we stuff it down with dopamine distractions (scrolling, alcohol, more work), we miss the opportunity to live fully.   Grief makes room in our bodies for both wonder and for creative action.  And yes there is discomfort to grief.  As Shanti Zimmerman teaches without discomfort and a solid relationship to it, we will find ourselves stuck in adolescence just scrambling from one high vibe feeling to the next never finding actual maturity despite our aging.  A true elder and any child knows this is not the way to live a fully rich and informed life.  Malidoma Somé teaches that the Dagara keep the young children and the elders closely together in community in the village.  He talks of barely speaking with his father during early childhood because what would be the point?  A grown man, working, in the prime of his life is simply too busy to understand a child the way a patient and listening elder could.  It was his grandfather that was his closest ally.  The two ends of the most spiritually aware spectrum, those that have just entered from the spirit realm to those about to make their way out to spirit really get each other. Both have potential to fully understand the value of grief and wonder in our world.

I am grateful at 45 I have had this year to slow down and witness my child.  It is through my child that I realized that his ability to sense and move with grief is part of what is informing his sense of wonder.  New Mexico is a beautiful place to live and there is intense poverty, crime and complications from the ready distribution of methamphetamines. My child notices every, single human being in desolation.  He takes them in.  Sometimes he cries.  He reminds me to feel this.  He reminds me to feel the disparity in our world.  We were recently in Española and a young tattered man asked us for a brownie.  He didn’t ask for cash.  He simply said, “I am so hungry. Will you buy me a brownie?” J looked at me with total clarity that said we are going into Starbucks where he was standing and buying him one.  I talked with my child for a bit about the situation as tears quietly streamed down his face.  Oh how I wanted to take that pain away. Not only for J’s sakes but because for me as an adult the wave of the world’s disparity came crashing down on me in beholding this one hungry human being and my child’s attentive grief. We try to stop our children’s grief because we are uncomfortable with our own.  The deep well of grief from living 45 years in a world that gives no sh*ts about the poor and homeless hit me hard.  I do not cry and take in every single homeless person I encounter.  I do not always let the sadness touch me nor inform me.  I feel discomfort, yes but I do not always let that discomfort move as grief nor do I always move to action.  I spend much of my life grief constipated. The story I tell myself is, how would I get through my day crying all the time?  I am barely surviving all the things I must do.  This is classical German farmer mentality and serves capitalism beautifully.  This exact same dangerous thought moves through me and prevents me from sensing and meeting my grief at many other personal levels as well.  

There is an open-heartedness to wonder.  Without allowing my heart to open to grief, I am closing myself to wonder.  Anything I am avoiding feeling is simply dragging behind me in my day to day life and siphoning my creative energy.   

Today I am pausing to notice.  Today am I am choosing to practice grief and wonder.  A beautiful friend has a simple daily practice in which she names two things worthy of grief and blesses them with a few drops of salt water.  I am joining with her in solidarity today. 

Today I grieve for the homeless in my town. 
Today I grieve for the disrespect for the Earth. 

May my heart stay open even when I face the uncomfortable truths of my existence so that through my willingness to grieve my sense of wonder and praise is able to continue inform my life. 





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