Silent Salute

I look with longing up the hill

to where my little sweetie lies.

A strip of tall, green trees topped with crimson

stand at attention along the oft-walked road

like a line of fire

through the graveyard

and up the hill where my baby ever sleeps.

Glorious fall silently saluting the fallen–

my heart shouting without sound

as the bus rumbles by and whisks me away too soon.

Ears of the Forest 

These tiny white tendrils

perched like innocent ears atop a mossy log

listening to the secrets of the forest…

What stories could they tell us, if they had mouths?

For they have heard the early morning trilling of birds

when everything else was silent

save for dew drops dripping from tall trees

bearded with curly mosses.


They have listened to the lapping of water

at the lake’s edge,

the liquid murmurs flowing over submerged logs 

soaked with sunken memories

–mine, too–

ones I dare not extract from their watery repose

lest I tumble in and get absorbed by their somnolence. 


These little glowing ears…

they could tell of green and growing things,

of red and rotting things,

and of the perfect patience of trees

which live and die and even in death

keep giving life. 

Holy Saturday

  
Day of silence

Of exhausted aftermath

Of unbelief

Can it really have happened??

The strangeness of life continuing 

Just as it had before

Yet—on the inside— 

Earth-shatteringly different 

Every mother who has lost a child 

Knows this feeling

In the core of her soul

In her hollowed-out heart

In her empty aching arms

The day after death

For most of us

The long wait for reunion

For resurrection

Lasts a lifetime

One long Holy Saturday 

Until death breaks the silence

And we hear our babies laugh

To endure this day

Stay close to the mother of the one they pierced

No sorrow deeper

No love stronger

No patience more graceful

Than that of the one who spent that Holy Saturday

Weeping tears of hope

Born of Hope

Sweet mother

pray for me

in this time

when more than ever

I need hope.

You know what it is 

to lose a child

without letting your hope be whipped away

by winds of despair.

You know what it is

to love again

to love still

to be courageous enough

to be vulnerable.

We are all

in a way

your rainbow babies.

Born of the sorrow of your heart

on losing Jesus.

Born of the intense burst of love

that broke out of your heart

that day at the foot of the cross

  

when beauty shone through your tears

like sunbeams pouring from a steely sky

making rainbows flicker

in the maternal tenderness

of your eyes.

Help me hope again!

Help me trust again!

May I be a courageous mother like you

brave enough to believe

I will soon hold my little boy

breathing this time

Alive!

in my arms. 

Must I tiptoe, Mother?

“Must I tiptoe, Mother, into this world?

Tread so softly I won’t be noticed—

hold in my newborn cries

in a wake of silence

for the one gone before me?

Must I pretend I am not here?”

  

“No, my little love, no,

for we want you and the world needs

your little bright light

as much as any other.

There is no one else 

who could ever be you.”

Parched Grass

  
It’s such a hot summer that I don’t know

which flowers to bring you

Everything dries up so fast

gets parched and wrinkled in the heat

and there’s enough death already 

in the graveyard

There should be a stone at least

shiny and beautiful at first

with simple eloquent words in your memory

nestled in the grass ever more cosily and 

eventually getting dusty and scratched

But I hesitate

and hover over your small grassy mound 

like hot air unable to settle

unwilling to take that last step

lay the last stone

and seal the tomb with the stone which 

forever silently repeats the word “goodbye”

“The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen 

  

Shortly after I lost my baby Josephine in labour nearly 6 months ago, a friend lent me this book by Henri Nouwen: “The Wounded Healer: In our woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”  The idea expressed in the subtitle caught my attention, because it spoke a truth that I had recently discovered myself…that my pain and brokenness had become a means of connecting deeply with others, and of helping them release their own pain. 

This process is not one of having all the right consoling things to say, or of having found a magic solution to blot out pain. Emotional healing is not about making pain disappear, but about learning how to live with it while maintaining a sense of hope and joy. 

There is a huge difference here, because one involves living in the reality of our broken world, with a hope that transcends it, while the other involves hoping in a world that doesn’t exist in the present…one without any suffering. 

Acceptance or denial, peace or rebellion. Choices we make every day when we live in pain. 

The world may tell us that life is not worth living when there is deep pain, and that the supposed nothingness of death would be better. But I can honestly say that there are things pain does which are very beautiful: 

Pain breaks down barriers between people and connects hearts. 

Pain makes beauty stand out in sharp relief, and helps one appreciate what was previously taken for granted. 

Pain burns away the fear of being authentically yourself, because the petty concern of what others might think ceases to matter as much. 

Pain rips open your heart to let the world in; no longer do you judge those who are struggling. 

Pain makes you rely on God, because your spirit needs support to bear this weight gracefully. Meaning with God’s grace. With prayer. 

Connection. Gratitude. Authenticity. Compassion. Interior growth. These are all pretty big gifts. They make life more beautiful and worth living. 

When you truly suffer, your heart hurts deeply, but loves more deeply as well. And this love, coming from a humble place of pain mingled with hope, can be a source of life for others. 

  

If It’s Only By Crying…

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If it’s only by crying
that I can understand
the tears of others
then let me wear them like pearls

If it’s only by losing hope
that I can bring it to others
then let it fly away

If it’s only by breaking my heart
that it can become
big enough to hold everyone
break it

If it’s only by my desolation
that I can walk the valley of grief
with others
then strip me bare

Let my fragility bring others courage
my vulnerability, strength

And from my emptiness
let Your light burst forth
and shine

Lead us through the valley of grief
because if we walk it together
it will bring us Home

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