I watch the return of Commander Scott Kelley’s return from the International Space Station after a year suspended between earth and moon, and somehow, I feel a kinship. Teach me how to space walk, I want to beg. Teach me how to live in the tension of change. Held and yet un-moored. Spinning at 17,000 miles an hour above an earth that heaves. Teach me how you lived through that. (Liminal Space, March 18, 2016)
It took me nearly a week past the election before I shut down my personal Facebook account. I think I always meant to slip in here, but as the days stretched on and on, I found myself quieter and quieted. A hush fell. I wonder about writing here even now.
Someone said that the most searched word of the year for 2016 was surreal. A word we search for and use when we can’t find names for what we see happening right in front of us. This can’t be reality; it’s too surreal. Something is wrong with the way I am seeing this, my eyes must be lying. This is not what I know to be true.
Teach me how to live in the tension of change. Held and yet unmoored.
There have been tremendously brutal lessons the suffering has taught me over the last three years. Perhaps the most difficult lesson one learns in suffering is that, by and large, you will suffer in a way that few can enter into. Relationships will be fundamentally changed. Many will be stripped away. You will never be the person you were before.
I am a much, much lonelier, quieter person than I was three years ago. Paradoxically, I am a much happier, much more peaceful person. I can count the people I genuinely, completely trust on one hand. The people I fully trust to share my story with are even smaller than that. People I thought would be on that list are nowhere to be found, people I had known for decades, people I invested in, over and over and over. I’m okay with that. I struggled with it at first, but now? I was true to myself in those years. I gave from my heart, with genuine care. I don’t have to be ashamed of that girl, that woman, those years. I give those years open handedly to the people who were in my life. I can’t deny, however, that it hasn’t changed how I interact with people.
I find myself listening much more than I speak.
That’s the paradoxical thing about finding peace, about living through suffering. You’d think in finding such a thing, you’d want to take people by their shoulders and tell them, hey, I know this really sucked, it was awful, you’re hurting, but I know how you can feel better. I’ve got answers. I’ve got the Answer. It’s not going to be as bad as you think.
It takes space-walking in the vacuum of suffering for you to see the world as it truly is, heaving, hurting, hopeful, hopeless, achingly beautiful, achingly broken. Once you see it in your own story, you see the thread shimmering in every human you meet. You also realize that there is very little you can say. You can listen. You can pray. You can be present.
This is what I know to be true, as surreal as it may seem. Peace is already here. It was always here. It will always be here, tucked into the quiet.
And I’m crying, tears of joy and sadness all rolled into one. As this year has been a year of change and self discovery never having been able to put it into words until I read this piece. Thank you so very much for sharing your heart as reading this finally gave me the realization that peace is out there you just need to look into the quiet places.
Donna Rae Barrow
I found that when I was going through a sustained time of suffering while in Ottawa, it was the meals I was fed by dear friends (2 couples in particular) and knowing that many were praying…suffering blesses us in many ways, but is very hard, very difficult to go through. our continued prayers.