This Thanksgiving weekend has been full of grace, peace, a deep understanding, and a coming to terms with that with which I must. I'd like to share some of what I wrote to 2 different friends this morning who had written to me out of their concern for me because of Henry's absence. To one I wrote...
"I'm hanging in. It's so hard without Henry because he was the one animal in this house who talked a blue streak, sang, called all the animals by name, ALL of them, and was my constant companion in a very intimate sweet way for over 10 years. It's SO quiet here now. It's heartbreaking and it was 3 weeks on Saturday and, while I'm not one to ever give up hope, it's in God's hands now and I have to begin to let go because, finally, I have 11 other animals here who need me, I have my 3 children and their husbands, fiancees, partners, my grandchild, my dying mother and on and on. And I have a very good life, a simple life, a quiet and loving life filled with grace. It does not serve God to turn a blind eye on all of one's blessings in a time of grief. In the end, I think that's what really heals."
To another very dear friend I wrote...
"Thanks so much sweetie. I have been having a very quiet few days. We had a lovely family Thanksgiving. My heart was so open and soft. I feel I've had a sign and while very sad it's made me more at peace. I think, perhaps, you are one of the few people who would understand.
I prayed for a sign, any kind of sign, to let me know if he had crossed the rainbow bridge and wasn't coming back for sure. The day he left, I put 2 little things on my necklace, a long silver snake chain with a beautiful carving of Quan Yin that I never take off, and on it I added a medal of St. Francis, and a coral cross to cover a cross section of my belief systems. Well, I've been wearing them ever since. In the shower, everywhere. There was no reason for any of them to fall off unless one or the other of them got caught on something, which they didn't. Yesterday I prayed for that sign. As I came in from taking the dogs out, the St. Francis medal was on the floor, by the door, exactly where Henry flew out. I shuddered and teared up. I am a deep devotee of St. Francis, for he so loved the animals. It felt like a sign. It felt like I was being told that he wasn't coming back but that all is well. It took me quite by surprise and I'm still coming to terms with it, but so it feels.
... So much love and compassion have been shown me, so much kindness. It's because of this I realize, in the midst of everything, that in the middle of a terrible loss, if we can still leave our heart open and allow the love and many small kindnesses in, and feel deep gratitude for all that we do have, we are healed and able to move forward, stronger, and even more at peace.
The verse that keeps coming to me is one I know that you know. It's from Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet...
'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.'
This piece from Gibran speaks so strongly to my feelings for Henry right now. I am deeply saddened and oddly at peace. He is the arrow that went swift and far..."
And so whether St. Francis was telling me that he is gone forever, or he will return, through that door, once again, he has given me a kind of peace that I needed badly. It is out of my hands. Henry came through me, not to me. I did not own him. He graced me with his presence. And if it is meant to be, he will return. For now, I walk on, back into my life, and thank God and all that I hold holy for all that I have, all of my many blessings, all of the dear people, family, friends, and new friends met in this mysterious, marvelous place called The Internet, who have become very dear indeed.
Today I will be giving out the first award to the blog that has signed onto the list of the Compassionate Living Blogs. As the weeks and months go along, some of my choices will seem odd to you, perhaps, as we think of works of compassion as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and needy, caring for the young and the old, and so many other things come to mind when we first think of compassion. But it is so much more than that.
Compassion is a word that encompasses so much more than I ever knew and have only, in these last years, begun to realize. A photographer, caring deeply about his or her subject, is showing a deep love and appreciation for the beauty before them. An artist molds clay or spins yarns and weaves tapestries and dreams and more with their holy hands. Yes, art is holy, and it is compassionate. It cannot be done quickly, and it honors everything on this earth. Even "dumpster divers" retrieving pieces of things others have thrown out and making of them something new are doing the holy work of honoring those things which have existed and served and now have been cast away. They, too, still have their purpose, in the eyes of the artist.
Compassion is the fortitude of parents going out every day to a job they perhaps don't like but do so that they may care for and feed their families. Time, our most precious commodity in terms of the measured space of being a living being on this planet, time, given freely to others, is an act of great compassion, as is solitude and silence, and meditation, the time in which we give thanks and come to a peaceful calm that lives inside of us but is too often forgotten, a grace that keeps us going and growing in the world.
Even blogs that are humorous might be viewed as compassionate if the humor is heartfelt and in good spirit. If you take the time, you can expand the definition of compassion out further and further, like the concentric circles that form and travel out and out and out when we throw a pebble in a pond. There are so many ways to open our heart to others. It will be in this spirit, wide and deep, that I will carry inside of me as I peruse the blogs on the Compassionate Blogs List. If you would like to sign up simply click the banner at the top of this column to go to the new blog that holds the info and sign-up list for the blogs who wish to be considered. I will tell you that any that have been sent in that are inappropriate will be taken down quietly and without making a big deal of it, but they will be taken down. My goal, with this list, is to gather together and celebrate those who live their lives with loving-kindness at their core, and share it freely through their blogs with the world. Blogs have become a powerful force in the world today, and the people who take time to do beautiful blogs that lift the hearts and spirits of others deserve attention. Too, the list itself will provide a great source of material that you may find interesting, healing, or that might bring you delight. To bring joy into someone's life is a powerful act of compassion too. I will put the award up tonight on this blog, the Compassionate Living Links blog, and next week, the winner will be the first one that will go on the Dragonfly Cottage website, where they will remain permanently so that others may find, and revel in, their work. They will stay on that page unless or until their blogs are no longer active. But the link will go up late this evening, for today I will carefully peruse all that links that are there.
And so I keep myself busy, I take time to feel gratitude and thanksgiving, and I thank God for all that I have, and all that I am, an imperfect-perfect, wabi sabi woman with a heart full of love.
May you be blessed, and at peace, and may you always walk with the knowledge that, as Julian of Norwich wrote in the 11th century.... "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all many of things shall be well." And so they shall.
With deep, heartfelt love,