Your words remind me of the Naomi Shihab Nye poem, "Kindness"...

"Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend."

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In some indigenous traditions we are at our most sacred when grieving. When we truly allow it we can be fully cracked open and so be more available to receive divine knowingness and messages of profound beauty from the One-song. 🙏🏽

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Oh my Tad, I love your writing so much. I've been working with the story of The Old Woman in the Cave for some time now, and have shared it twice in Story Council. It is a great one. I love how the threads of pain, loss, grief you describe are also the threads of beauty and praise. Have you heard the version with Trickster Crow, that's the first one that arrived at my door. I love it as Trickster Crow just can't resist the beguiling beauty of the bright threads... pecking peck peck, tug tug tug...! I'm also intrigued how the old stories themselves, are like these tenderly crafted pieces of art weaving the wisdom of tragedy into art. I'm bring a new story to our online Story Council today that tells of a lonely man shut out in the cold dark looking into the most beautifully carved box taht is a village that he cannot belong to. I'd be so honored to have you join, and would love to explore this story with you.

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I appreciate and agree with this. I despise the term "no pain, no gain" -- which seems to be this culture's "antidote" or flip side to the distraction and covering up that our culture also prescribes. I take a middle way: if you're in pain, get value out of it. But don't seek out pain in order to get the value, that's insane.

I think a lot of the ways modern culture is seeking out pain for gain is unconscious, a need for what this essay and these comments describe -- but a groping, confused need, that expresses itself in the destruction of whole landscapes, whole peoples, whole ways of life. As a way to feel again and reach that transformation.

There's something I learned about pain, through having lots of it, and I think when we're talking about grief, we're talking about pain, emotional, physical, and mental. What I learned is this: there may be times when we have to just be subsumed by it; there may be times when we need to numb it out. But what really works is to allow it, to enter into it and be transmuted by it, as it becomes transmuted. To be willing to be utterly changed, and yes, to create something beautiful from being in touch with what creates that change.

I've described this to people with the kind of intractable pain I had as imagining the pain is like an egg white, gelatinous-- and then you're fluffing it up, whipping it into airy expansive bubbles. It changes the sensation of pain to do this---but the true gift in it is when you allow the pain to carry you beyond imagining and open to the harmony and power that connects us all. That changes everything through us, inspiring us to create as naturally as an inhale is followed by an exhale. I think of Bach writing the Ciaconna in D after the death of his wife -- but I also think of a wholesome nourishing meal that one of my clients in pain made with thought and attention to share with her husband. It doesn't have to be big.

The thing I'd caution against is the thing I did for so long, and am still unraveling in myself: the desire to cling to pain because of the sense, as Rudy Hunter says, that doing that means we're still attached to who or what we've lost. We are still attached, but the relationship is different now, and if we can't be a part of that difference, then we will always live in the loss. I can't help wondering if people who work 80-hour weeks not out of necessity but ambition are trying to use pain as a springboard to remembering that harmony and power that they've lost, that's beyond their imagination or mental manipulation. I used to cut out of the same confused attraction: pain drowns out the voice of mind and habit and puts us in the immediate present -- a place where we can choose to change direction. I can't help wondering if people do extreme sports, play with broken limbs, from that same confused homing instinct: there's a part of us that always remembers we're part of a huge pattern, woven by whatever created and is still creating the universe, being woven through me in this moment, as I write this.

Creating beauty, on no matter how small a scale, is another way we heal and re-member, be a living part of, that harmony and power. A way we make it materialize, not just for us, but for those we share the world with.

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Oh so beautiful. I'm reminded of this beautiful song written by a member of the Sami people, honoring the loss and remembering of his best friend. It's not about the words, or the meaning. One can simply feel the experience in the song and sounds. So moving: https://youtu.be/tCL9FiAuezk

What a gift we have in our grieving. What a gift we are left with when we honor the love we have lost.

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”...get better at being broken hearted”...wow, yes ❤️

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