Sunday, May 13, 2012

Joy and Pain

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. 
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? 
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? 
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. 
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
                                                                                                 ~Khalil Gibran

I read these beautiful words yesterday on a friend's Facebook page and immediately resonated with them---yet found them painful at the same time.  

I've felt 'hollowed out' over and over in recent years, yet last night at a friend's 39th birthday party I could reassure her without hesitation that my 40's have been the best decade of my life so far.  

There's a mystery in the marriage of joy and pain......

A lot of the excavation of my soul the past few years has been living in a neighborhood where hard things far outweigh the joys in my neighbors' lives. It's also brought more into focus than ever the depth of joy that can exist when someone has experienced profound pain.  

I was prepared for hard things when we came here.  I knew that poverty and injustice would change me, and they have.  

But the loss that's cut me the deepest and made me reel is one that you don't have to move to an exotic land to feel and it has to do with this:

Letting Aaron go to boarding school was a huge thing for me with months of fairly agonizing preparation in my heart beforehand.   It wasn't a 'normal' thing to let your 13 year-old go, but I knew it was what's best for him so I worked hard at dealing with it.  I was still adjusting to that when Hannah's departure seemed to sneak up without warning.  I told myself, "It's time.  She's ready.  This is a normal part of life.  It will be good."  I gave myself a couple of weeks when we got back here to grieve and then told myself to pull it together and get on with it.  In hindsight I didn't give myself very good advice!  

Since then I've had friends from all over tell me how agonizing it was for them as children started to leave home.  Some experienced depression or started experiencing panic attacks and needed medication.  Obviously it's not an easy thing to do!

I'm so happy for both Hannah and Aaron.  I love how they're growing and couldn't be more proud of them.  I wouldn't change their current experiences for the world.

But having them away from us for long periods is an adjustment and a grief and I wish I'd been more rational about that a few months back so I would be further along in the process now.  Live and learn!  And next Mother's Day Rachel will have left the nest as well.

Children are a ble3sing and oh so precious!  They are one of the brightest spots in my life and I look forward to ongoing, adult relationships with them in the future.  I want to be their biggest cheerleader as they strike out in the lives they're being prepared for even though they won't be as physically close to me.  

There's lots of joy ahead, but sometimes first:

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

I've got to say as well, however, that the more things that are stripped in my heart, the more I'm finding my deepest delight in Him!