In many ways, this has been one of the best summers I have ever had. It has been a series of carefree camping, swimming and kayaking dates, interspersed with lots of time with friends and family. It has been wonderful and healing for my soul in so many ways.
My friend Catherine wrote a post about emptiness and about having compassion for oneself. It is a must-read, as is the post she linked to as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/2013/06/emptiness.html
It so resonated with me because underneath my really fun summer, emptiness and grief has been a theme of this whole year for me. Time can be so healing, but yet not enough time has passed, so those emotions and events are still there in my soul, digesting and breaking down.
Empty. Drained. Exhausted.
Not full, but empty.
There is still laughter and fun, but it is there underneath, this feeling.
Sometimes life is like this tide of outward expansion, inward contraction…full and empty, alone and then in companionship. But it can be so hard when one feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so…challenged and swimming upstream at every turn. It can be so hard when your “ho hum” has left the building and run away because you feel so raw about everything.
Yet, a curious thing has come out of this summer, simply because I really took some steps to protect myself in rest, to protect myself in peace. The emptiness has not gone away, there are really raw moments, but I am starting to see it all as something different. I am starting to see it all as gifts.
A gift of solitude. If you look up synonyms to “emptiness”, curiously enough, you will find “solitude” listed as such. Words are such curious creatures, and I would not have paired solitude and emptiness and yet there it is.
Solitude has me retreating into a cell not unlike the cells the Early Christian desert monastics lived and worked in. A cell of the soul. It is stillness. I am waiting. I am abiding.
What I am learning in this cell, as I pare down the external, get rid of commitments, as I retreat and renew and finds what nourishes me, is fascinating. There are lessons and gifts there.
A gift of grace. I am praying and meditating each day on the Great Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian. It is my mainstay right now. Grace is what gets one through the ugly in life.
The gift of a small circle of loved and trusted friends. Like most of us, I hold more insecurities than ever right now…. What do I possibly have to offer anyone at all? So many loud and strident voices out on the Internet and in life as well….it makes me want to walk away, retreat under a rock or in a cave and just be with my very small circle of those I really trust and love. I have thought on and off that perhaps I should stop blogging completely since it is all being said by others and I have felt such an emptiness. But yet, I hang on and think perhaps there is light in the cell of my soul to yet be shared. There is this glimmer of hope. I am thankful for the people God has placed in my life.
So I do understand where Catherine and where so many of us as women are in this season, but here is to hope and to thankfulness for this moment and the opportunity to grow in love.