tragic joy


attached is my year end reflection for oasis. i finally broke the writing resistance for this paper, which i ‘had’ to write as a year-end reflection to the dydm program i have been participating in this year. note that it was a month late!…. but i finally did it. spent all night doing so. it is interesting that, the morning after, i awakened remembering how i had spent the night… and such a feeling of delight surged through my soul, and a secret, smile of satisfaction glowed from me. it was like waking up and remembering the night of lovemaking from the night before. those quiet hours alone in sacred communion with God.
it strikes me don and i often will say, after lovemaking, ‘we really should do that more often!”. it makes me wonder why it is that we don’t return to those places of healing, of wholeness, of joy, of union…sexual and spiritual… and journaling, places where we are in touch with our soul.
at the closing retreat for this class, my mystical heart was deeply nourished. the year of gatherings had been slightly more didactic in nature than experiential and so somehow less satisfying, less nourishing of my deep spaces, less intimate, and so, ironically, more vulnerable for me. perhaps i somehow felt alone in my deeper spaces when there was not room to explore them fully. because the closing retreat allowed space for contemplative and deep interior experience, i felt the others joined me inside.
the evening of the first night, we shared favorite poems. one of the women read a gullah version of the creation story. having just been through a dark period, which culminated and was healed in an experience of greening, and the bringing forth of new life. something inside clicked for me as she began the story with god in the darkness.
“as far as the eye of God could see, darkness covered everything, blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp’
i heard the story for the first time personally…as a myth that speaks to the internal experience of my humanity, the healing process that is creation…moving from darkness to light, nothingness to growth, loneliness to union and community. it reminded me of a film i watched last fall…not a terribly good film, but one that connected to me on an emotional level when i understood that the hero (who was trying to be the first to survive a night in a possessed hotel room) was really trying to pass through/survive his own grief process, which i recognized in the drowning, the freezing, etc. his internal torment was the true haunting.
hugh mentioned an hasidic tale about god creating a beautiful vase that somehow was shattered and we were about putting it together again. i have heard a similar tale, but it was more about the light shattering into zillions of pieces and we each contain a spark. and we are about all the sparks coming back together. it fascinates me that such creation stories are part of our psyche, especially if the big bang is true. to think that we contain the memory of that original experience of creation on some level, even as we contain particles of stardust from that original explosion.
as you know, i have often pondered the brokenness of god. pondered why god chose to break godself apart into so many pieces and intuited that it was a sacrifice of self made in order to become. that story is retold in the story of jesus, is it not? my own experience of the growth of my soul has also been such. my own growth in love comes as i gather the lost pieces of my self …learning to love that which was broken in me. and i have pondered if it is not the same way with god…that we are all the lost and broken pieces of godself and god’s reclaiming of them is also part of god’s own becoming, grows god’s very soul…in love. just look at the expansiveness of the universe…
i also was struck by the way in which that is also true organically. growth occurs through division…breaking. cells divide. seeds break off. new beings break apart from their mothers. 
the next morning, we were invited to crack a clay pot. actually we dropped them. the idea was given that we were born perfect and then broken. (clay in the potter’s hand, flawed vessels) healing then was about putting the pieces of self back together. as each participant lined up to drop their pots….i was profoundly, deeply moved. with each violent crash, i had the feeling i was witnessing miracle. the miracle of birth. and i was awed at how we each say ‘yes’. yes to that fall. yes to the break. yes to becoming human. yes to life. yes to becoming and to participating with, assisting in, god’s becoming.
and there was in the exact same moment tragedy and joy…pain and hope…beauty beyond compare.
we were then invited to move downstairs to attempt to put the pots together again. we moved and worked in silence, in community. there i sat with my pieces of self (we had dropped them while contained within a large ziplock bag) as did the others, and the feeling here was a settling in to the business of life alongside one another. following the path. taking on the
work. and as i hit the panic of ‘i can’t do this!’ and ‘help me’ i was again deeply impressed with the courage that it takes to be human. at the amazing ‘yes’.
but i did it…as did every one in the room. what felt impossible was accomplished by each one of us. afterwards, we painted the cracks. i ‘knew’ right away what my color would be. green. creation. new life.  the cracks oozed green. a green that would not have been present without the breaking. growth would’ve been contained, suppressed. i had read something in recent months about sacred art, the way in which green represents creation and new life. i remember being touched by an image of mary wearing the red of humanity, the red of earth, and the blue mantle of divinity, and holding the two together was a simple green sash. that sash is everything, without which we come undone. that sash holds together our humanity and our divinity…it is the connection and the meaning. it is the christ in us…the incarnation of spirit in flesh that is about the business of becoming. i thought again about how the christ in us mediates these 2 aspects of ourselves.
and so as i drew in my journal afterwards, there was an explosion of light for me. of joy. along each ray of the sunburst there were the colors of all of the yeses, there was a passing through the panic and the chaos of the darkness of life … a labyrinthine passage through the darkness that came out the other side alongside the light that continued to penetrate through the center of the chaos. and at the terminal ends was a leaf.
springtime is in my very cells. it is in my very being. it is in my very knowing. it is who i am
this retreat was indeed a culmination of my year. a physical imaging of what has been coming together, being stirred awake  and occurring inside of me, of that which was being informed within.  a deep recognition of a healing, which feels not simply the trauma of breakage, but the joy of breakage. the oneness of the wound and the wisdom, the profane and the sacred. unity. wholeness. a wholeness that is so different from ‘perfection’. perfection leaves no room for growth. it is in truth the useless pot.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: yes « Emmaatlast’s Weblog
  2. Trackback: an aside -2 | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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