Dear grandchild of mine

Perhaps as you read this, I am gone, physically, from your world. Perhaps I have been long gone, and someone has given this letter to you. Perhaps it was just yesterday that I took my last precious breath. Especially if that is so, and you are grieving, I want you to know that this life has been such a terribly beautiful experience for me–one that I know will be the same for you. Not that the specifics of your life experience will be the same as mine, for they won’t be (with the wild pace of change, I expect it will look as radically different from mine as mine did from my grandmother’s – but these differences are merely the surface dressing of life) but that the journey of your heart and the ways in which a life on this earth will forge that most precious aspect of your humanity — your human capacity to Love, to be vulnerable, to receive life’s experiences, to be softened and opened by them, to grow large, to become fully Who You Are– will be a terribly beautiful one.

I choose the words ‘terribly beautiful’ very intentionally, my child, for this is the nature of life. There are terrible experiences here– profound suffering and deep pain, grave sorrow and injustice, abuse and war, human failings (including your own, which are often the hardest and most transformative of all), heartbreak, loss, despair and grief– that will break you–open if you let them. Sometimes we only feel the brokenness, but if we allow Love to work its way in us, those very broken places fill with mercy and compassion and tenderness making our hearts, in the process, somehow More Human… and at the same time More Holy.

There are some who allow the pain of this world to make them hard– this is how they protect themselves from further harm and is understandable and worthy of the deepest compassion. They can’t let Love fill those broken spaces, those ruptured holes. Some people are so afraid of pain that they keep themselves small as a result, trapped in a world of seeming safety, though life really doesn’t spare any of us. Grief comes for us all.  You don’t ever need to seek it out.

Paradoxically, often it is the exact experience of pain that brings us to Beauty. The birth of a child is the prime example of this truth — there is great pain in one breath and with the next there is profound beauty, in an astounding breaking-open explosion of Love. This can teach us how to hold on through harrowing times, trusting that something Beautiful may be born through the current hardship, though it can be so difficult to believe this within a moment of overwhelming pain and brokenness that blinds us. 

I believe that is what is happening in our world right now. There is so much pain. So much that is breaking — breaking open to a new way of being. I believe it will be a more loving way of being, for that is the way of Love’s evolution. Something in us has gotten off track lately– mostly, what we value and Who we think we are, where we think we will find security and meaning and Love (in all the wrong places). Our human need is so great for these things we get lost in the striving sometimes. My hope is that this current breakage will be a corrective one– one that fills with real Love, after all our own failures are most often what soften us enough to allow that to happen.

My child. I want you to know that there is a Loving Presence within Life. It is within You, within me, within the Earth and the Stars, and all of what appears to be empty space (even that feeling of emptiness now within you). This Presence is the Source of Who we are. It IS Who we are. It animates us from within and draws us forth into something beyond ourselves, into Greater Love. All of Life, its groaning and its song, is about birthing that Greater Love. We are all participating in that Wondrous Becoming. You can find Hope and Strength in that . You can let that wonder fill your heart, and you can let it flow from you in Joy and Love.

I will tell you a story about when I was a much younger woman. It was a time in my life before I understood this, when I was in the most terrible pain, having experienced sorrow upon sorrow, loss upon loss, failure upon failure, shame upon shame, brokenness upon brokenness, grief upon grief (and yet, as I could not see in that moment, for I did not yet understand how pain and beauty can dwell in the same breath, those same experiences had been threaded through with deep Joy and profound Love too) I did not think that Life was worth living, and I wanted to leave this world if Life meant only more of the same suffering. I couldn’t understand how a Loving Source of Life could allow such pain, could allow for a world filled with cruelty and atrocity, with harshness and betrayal. That felt Unreal to me, like a lie. How it could it possibly be Love that i was experiencing in this place.

As I cried out in that despair, as I contemplated leaving it all behind, a deep sense of being profoundly Loved overcame me, as if I was being held by the deepest of compassion and empathy and welcomed into its Love. Suddenly I understood that a Presence so Loving and embracing of my pain could not have placed me here upon this earth if it was not a Very Good thing, would never intend a life/a world of suffering for us, and that there had to be a reason for Life, which was somehow related to this Profound Goodness i felt.

There was another experience, around this same time, when I was in such despair that I wept until I fell into sleep. That night, a profoundly Loving Voice — deep and demanding my attention — penetrated my sleep. This voice implored me to gaze upon what it was showing me- a vision of a cross/tree that was being filled with a brilliant light. I was told to notice how it was being filled from the top of its reach deep into its roots with Light and Love, and that I was to let myself be filled (be loved) in that same way. There was nothing else that I had to ‘do’ but to let myself be filled (let myself believe that I was Loved in that way). I was then asked to notice the horizontal branches of the tree/cross, to notice how the light naturally flowed outward from that filling, to see how letting myself be loved would naturally overflow to the world, to others, in the same way. I woke from that experience, not wanting to leave that feeling behind, weeping as my feet hit the cold floor upon my return, and yet somehow I now knew that this Love never leaves us . It is always here. We swim in it. Our roots are grounded in it. It falls upon us and fills us.

That was 20 years ago, but I am still living into that truth. It informs my very being.  You, too, are Loved like that. We all are profoundly Loved and are meant to be Love. Whenever I (you) feel like I am not enough, I remember. Whenever I slide into forgetting Who I Am, I am called back, to remember that I am to receive and transmit Love. That is all. Whenever I feel lost, I recall those roots and I am drawn back — back to the earth, back to the Divine, back to my embeddedness in Love, a Love that allows my buds to blossom and my leaves to let go.

My child, it is not the particularities of our human form, but that which fills us, which is the Essence of Who we are. The particularities don’t matter. Love can take an abundance of forms (it does this throughout the universe and deep within an ordinary human life). Those particulars will change with the culture and with the time, and even within your own self over your life span. You must take care not to base your worth upon those surface forms. All experiences and paths and ways of doing life are opportunities  to discover the Sacredness of Life, to seek Wisdom, to find Beauty, to grow and to become Love (to be a part of Love’s Becoming) (motherhood is one of the most assured paths to this, by the way).

When I was a small child, perhaps 7 years old, as I lay in my bed at night, I thought God was telling me that ‘He’ had chosen me to be the next Mary, to give birth to the next Jesus. (i remember telling my best friend about this at the time) At that time, I thought that made me special, and maybe I needed to feel that way at that time in my life when I didn’t feel so special, or so loved like that, at all. Now, I understand that we are all called to give birth to Love in this place, to let it grow in our bellies, to let it go out into the world. Now, I understand that Love is birthed through our very ordinariness, in the midst of what the world might consider less-than, what the world might shame as not living up to its codes of good enoughness. I, like Mary, was an unmarried pregnant teenage girl once too. It took me a long time to stop trying to prove that I was not soiled because of that, but strangely blessed by it.

Do not concern yourself with being great, then, but with Being Love. Do not seek attention, but seek Goodness. Do not get pulled apart into too many ‘not enoughnesses’, but do ‘small things with Great Love’, remembering that you are not a small thing, but a Great Love.  Always remember, as well, that you are ‘one of many’. Together We Are One Love. Be content to let your cup be small enough so that it can fill to overflowing. Trust that Love will spill and spread, ripple and connect with others who are spilling Love. For if you try to be all things to all people, without making time and space to be filled with Love, you will drain yourself dry and then what you have to offer will not be Love at all, for although we are filled with the Divine Light, we are finite beings in this human life, each of us bearing the gift that we are.  We are each drops. Together we make an ocean.

On the other hand, remember that you contain multitudes! That the components of the ocean itself are within the drop. Celebrate the wild array within. Embody Love in all the various ways it shows up in your life. Love all the wild creatures that show up– for they are the Beloved in disguise.

Take delight in the EArth.  It will fill you with Wonder when you are feeling weary. It will remind you to look for Beauty, in its seasons of becoming — the coldness preceeding the blossom, the fruitfulness followed by dying back. Find a piece of dark sky where you can be awestruck by the depth of space and time and your smallness within it, then wonder how it is that you are somehow integral to that Wholeness. Find a place where you forget yourself and remember that you belong to the Earth, where you understand that you are a part of it and it is a part of you. Let that remind you of deeper truths. Find something here that makes you come alive, so alive that you feel like bursting into song — and then sing! It doesn’t matter what it is. Do not let anybody tell you that what you Love is not good enough. Love itself is the reason and the goal.

Know that wherever you are, wherever you look, you can find Beauty. ‘Seek and you shall find’. I once heard a voice say to me (again, it broke into my dream, waking me from sleep) , ‘You are Bound to Beauty’. There’s more to that story, perhaps for another time in the redemption of the word ‘bondage’ for me, but in that moment I knew my life in this place was forever tied to Beauty. I understood it was why I was here, Who I truly am, what i was to seek and to Be, and that message blessed me. Of course, as I had already learned by then, I also understood that Life on this Earth is ‘terribly beautiful’, deeply beautiful, within the intricacies of each moment and the vastness of its diverse wholeness, within its darkness and its light. You will find it too, if you remember to look.

I wish for you, eyes to see it, and a heart that breaks open to Life’s boundless Beauty and profound Love. I pray for you to understand that YOU are a part of that Beauty, a part of that Wonder, the embodiment of Love. You are boundless in your beauty and phenomenal in your Love. May life reveal all of this to you, and more, for it is a wondrous journey that you too are blessed to receive.

In Beauty and Love always.

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