In the past my friend and I walked the neighborhood each winter. We loved seeing the houses lit for the holidays. All the sparkling lights were so festive. When you walk in the dark you can also see lit rooms in the houses we passed. People living their lives.
This morning our pastor talked about the dark and how the light of home beckons us. It made me think of the John Denver song “Back Home Again.”
“Back Home Again”
There’s a storm across the valley, clouds are rolling in
The afternoon is heavy on your shoulders
There’s a truck out on the four lane, a mile or more away
The whining of his wheels just makes it colder He’s an hour away from riding on your prayers up in the sky
And ten days on the road are barely gone
There’s a fire softly burning, supper’s on the stove
But it’s the light in your eyes that makes him warmHey, it’s good to be back home again
Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend
Yes, and hey, it’s good to be back home again
The winter can be a difficult time for those of us who crave the light. However, it is a wonderful feeling to turn into the drive and see the lights of home welcoming us. We are pulled into that feeling of belonging and peace. The light from home does draw us in. It is the place we feel secure….the place where we can rest our souls. It is a warm place in the coldest dark. Even in the darkest time that light can brighten our feelings.
Through this winter darkness remember there is light and peace not only at home but also coming with the spring. The darkness fades and the light returns.
If you would like to hear this song:
We so often talk about knowing ourselves. We want to see ourselves and know our innermost thoughts and feelings. Most of the time I don’t think that we are ready to see ourselves fully. The truth would be too painful.
I often think about this as standing in a bright light looking in a mirror. In the mirror we see our face unadorned. All the blemishes and flaws are totally revealed. If we see this most women are quick to add make up to cover what we see and make it acceptable to us. We hope that others will not see what we saw. The face we present to the world is different than the one in the mirror.
The same thing is true of us. We don’t really want to see all the flaws that would be revealed if we could really see what is inside. Our minds have doors that we don’t open. We say we want to see but we look without opening those doors.
I wonder if this is part of the reason that contemplation/meditation is so difficult. Not only is it not part of our culture but it can be revealing. Sitting in silence and letting the unconscious be in charge can be scary. We may learn things we didn’t really want to know.
The other side of the coin is that opening those doors and cleaning out those closets can bring us a peace that we can only imagine. We just have to be strong enough to accept what we find and let the ugliness drift away and hold on to the beauty. We will find beauty there as well and it can bring peace and help us to love ourselves.
When we experience the loss of someone or something truly significant to we can be overwhelmed. Sometimes numbness sets in and we are separate from things going on around us. When the grief begins to explode our psyche we don’t know what to do to help. There is a danger at this point. We want so badly to help the pain that we can reach out to things that can put a band aid on the hurt for awhile. Sometimes those things are knee jerk reactions and end up adding to our emotional crisis. That is why most advice says don’t do anything hasty. Usually the advice is about selling a house or moving. But there are other things that can crop up.
One thing we seek during immediate grief is connections. We need others to see our pain. Most of the time people don’t know what to say or how to help. Many say the wrong things. There will be some who understand the things that you really need. Hold them close…they are your lifeline.
If this happens to us early in life ..losing a spouse or loved one…we so want the grief to relent that it is easy to dive into another relationship thinking that is the answer. I have a friend who lost her husband early on and had two disastrous marriages before stepping back and eventually making a loving and lasting connection. She just wanted the pain to stop.
Grief is not an easy thing and it does not follow the same pattern for everyone. Small things can cause waves of pain.. a smell, a song, an event. There are so many more.
There will be life following. It is fine to laugh, have good days and momentarily put thoughts of your love from your mind. Don’t be guilty. You are allowed to go on. You still have God given life and you can live it.
For those of us who suffer from anxiety I am sure that we realize that anxiety is fear. I’m not sure that we can identify the fear….or put a name to it. Maybe if we could do that we could conquer it..and that is the trick….learning how to conquer it.
All the coping skills that we learn are ways to shove the fear away and replace it with calm and resolve. When fear raises its ugly head we react with the flight or fight response. Our body is ready to go into battle. As most of us know, there is no battle looming. Only the one with ourselves.
Like those with PTSD too much adrenaline is coursing through us and our heart rate increases, alertness heightens, and we are hyper and fearful. We know it is anxiety and too often related to nothing threatening but there we are.
I wonder if we could stop and identify the specific fear it would help. Maybe just taking a good look at our worst thoughts would help us to be more realistic. Most of the time the bridge we are trying to cross is never coming.
I think I will add this to my list of coping skills to see if I can identify the threat and thereby defuse it. It really would be nice if this can be another skill to add to the arsenal.
When we are willing to share our woundedness it allows us to connect on a deep level with others.
This is a poem I wrote about that.
The pain is near
Close inside my soul
It holds my essence
The past that is me
It holds the secrets
Things not always shared
But given freely
To ease distress
The pain others fear to share
Pouring out over the torn
And bleeding hearts
Joining our souls
Connecting our depths
We are together
Melded by God
The place of suffering
The place chosen to connect
Suffering and pain
With no restraint
Feeling the aloneness
Ever after to pour over
The oil of compassion
My granddaughter has had me watching some episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Usually not my thing. However, one episode really struck me. Two of the main characters have a way of dealing with stress that I found interesting. They “dance it out,” That idea doesn’t sound so silly to me. Making yourself put on some happy, butt moving music and just dancing however you want is not a bad idea. Especially if you can do it with someone else.
Maybe we all need to find someone that we can do this with. If there is no one just do it by yourself. I would really like to try it. I know that when I am cleaning house if I put on some dancing music I tend to get more done and I also feel good.
Let’s all get some happy dancing music and “dance it out.”
Recently I read an article that led me to explore another coping skill for managing stress. One of the things I have noticed about dealing with stress, anxiety and depression is the more we are able to step away in our minds helps. The ability to almost have an out of body experience allows us to look at things differently. We disassociate ourselves from the distress and are able to see it as outside of ourselves.
We seem to do it (when we can) without really understanding that it is what we are doing. I think if we can understand this process, and actually use it, more control is possible. I can imagine saying to myself “now just stand away…let this other person struggle you are separated from it.” I don’t see it as a true out of body experience but just the disconnecting of our mind from the immediate issue.
It does seem to have a relationship with things like taking a deep breath, or lowering your chi. I do think it goes one step further. Breathing can help to get us to that state. Take a deep breath and imagine yourself standing apart from all the problems. See your other self and let the feelings that are there be away from you.
This may all sound a little out there but I am adding this coping skill and will report on how well it works for me.