I am not sure how or when I began my apprenticeship with sorrow.
I do know that it was my gateway back into the breathing and animate world.
It was through the dark waters of grief that I came to touch my unlived life...
There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive.
Through this, I have come to have a lasting faith in grief.
Inspired by the words of Francis Weller in his writing in "the wild edge of sorrow". He has been a guide, a teacher, a companion on that road of recovering all the ancient parts in me that have made grief the exiled friend.
Maybe it started when I was born and suffered the loss of contact with the primordial essential touch of my dear mother.
Maybe it was fed through forgotten memories of the loss of love, care, or unanswered needs in relationships.
Maybe it was sustained by the broken dreams, the lost friends, the broken promise of lovers, the ultimate reality of the presence of suffering in life.
Those are now the times when I could not escape it anymore. The ravage of death in my relatives and elders this year. The amplified presence of grief around me. The hopelessness of so many as they lost their jobs, their parents, their friends, their lands, and their homes.
In a usually very festive and innocent time of the year, Christmas family réunions, I could not escape the feeling in my body of being far from my loved ones, and finally embrace the shore of uncertainty, the rivers of grief, the land of losses.
As I kept diving more was opening.
We all tend to seek the next expansion the next experience, the next realization, the next frontier - but honestly as I have always experienced, and a dear friend reminded me, all the work and wisdom is in the space of contraction and integration which is never given enough time and space.
So I dedicated most of my time to this moment - on the outside it looks like I am not doing much and nothing is moving or progressing (we love that word probably too much) but the depth of the growth is actually accelerated because I spend so much time in that place of nothingness.
It has nothing to do with contemplation or paralysis or avoidance - quite the contrary. It has nothing to do with making it all about grief either. Or maybe It is. For that one moment.
As my apprenticeship with sorrow grows, I discover new gems of wisdom, that were hidden in those abandoned parts of self. And I finally get in touch with a depth of understanding of it that I had never reached.
In that space where I learn to bear myself, to bear the immense pain, I finally understood better the needs I have. And there I finally understand better the needs of the world to hold and heal the unresolved grief and sorrow of colonialism, racism, wars, earth degradation, and trans-generational trauma.
I realize with humbleness how ill-equipped our culture, communities, and most individuals are to hold that space. We are trying to fix it. To give what is not requested. We are the victims and the perpetrators of a falling system.
We invade the very tender and sacred space of grief with our western mind of "fixing" and project our own disgust for depression, hopelessness, sorrows, and separation with disembodied statements and saviors syndromes.
Yet here grief and sorrow are patiently doing their work. Calling for a different type of communion and community. They are calling the ones who have found faith with grief and in grief, to lay a track of small stone pebbles in this dark forest. So that those who are lost in it can find their way home in their own time, at their own rhythm, and with their own wisdom too.
As Naomi Nye beautifully said:
"Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, You must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak it till your voice Catches the thread of all sorrows And you see the size of the cloth."
I am a weaver. So I will keep weaving all those sorrows. And that is the work and the truth I can always relate to.
In that sacred work, that weaving, I discovered the sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive.
With love, Angell Deer
Francis Weller Podcast Interview https://thesanctuaryny.podbean.com/e/francis-weller-an-apprenticeship-with-sorrow-live-interview/
Other podcast access (iTunes, etc) https://thesanctuaryny.podbean.com/
Full event video recording on The Sanctuary YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/sZKPHf4BYHY