Between a two week hiking trip in Utah and steadily editing the first draft of my Camino memoir, my blog has been neglected. Funny how I often write posts in my head, but they don’t get translated to this page. But here is one of the posts that has been rambling around in there.
Walking in the bowels of the earth in southern Utah was good for my tired soul. I went there still wet with grief from losing one of my best friends last fall and losing my mother in January. I went there still composing mom’s eulogy and sermon for May 22nd. And while there, I listened to my sister on the phone making funeral plans for her husband who is failing rapidly.
I have been a grief counselor and been through this grief cycle personally a number of times, losing my father, my sister and a close friend who was like a brother. But even though I KNOW that grief takes its own time and its own meandering course, I went on this trip just wanting it to be over. I grieve in two distinct ways: my stomach goes into a knot and I am excessively tired. The stomach knot is gone but the exhaustion lingers. Soul exhaustion that my body translates for me. A lot of exhaustion comes from my personality that wants to be strong and resilient and able to take what comes. There’s been a lot of pride in me for that in my history. But not this time. I’m practicing vulnerability, trying to live into what Paul the apostle wrote, “in my weakness I am strong.”
I said to a friend while on the trip that I feel small in this country–in a good way. I see my place in evolution and I can see my grief in literally the “sands of time.” I saw this sign in a little mercantile in Escalante and felt the truth of its message. This grief opens me to kindness. A kindness that opens me to seeing all of us carry grief just a slight fingernail scratch beneath the surface. I don’t say that to diminish my own. Only to sense our humanity together.
Walking in the Grand Escalante Staircase formed over 100-500 million years, you can see layer after layer of time in the rocks. You can imagine the tremendous forces that shaped the stone through eruptions and uplifts and changes in climate. And most significantly you can see how water running over sandstone for centuries created the beauty of the slot canyons that are my favorite kind of canyon. They feel womb-like to me–very much as if I am being held. And at the same time, signs warn of flash floods that could fill this narrow passageway at any moment without warning. Beauty and loss. They abide together. I’m letting my soul have its share of both these days and lace them together with grace. This healing will come.