Sunday, August 26, 2012

The 'Journey'...

The more I read about it, the more I hear it described as a journey. "Grief is a journey". I guess a lot of people talk about grief this way because it is a good analogy. I can see how this experience could be likened to a journey along some kind of road. A long, winding road... the road less travelled. Grief can also be a very lonely road. And I don't think my road is made out of yellow bricks.

When I was a little girl, my parents owned a holiday house in the Bunya Mountains. It is a spectacular part of the world, tucked away in South East Queensland. A National Park full of beauty and splendor built around a mixture of eucalyptus and rainforrest. I am privileged to have spent many a vacation walking the tracks through that dense wilderness. My deep love of creation is largely founded on those memories. The best part of having a holiday house there was that it became so familiar. We knew the best walks to go on, the best places to go and catch tadpoles, the best areas to go spotlighting at night to see the possums and the frogs and the owls. However, there were a few occasions that we would stumble upon something new. I remember a few times when we went bush walking we decided to follow a track that we had not walked before. Most of the time we had not walked those tracks because we had not noticed them before. And usually we hadn't notice them because they were overgrown and not used often. They were the 'roads less travelled'.

There was one time when we set out on one of our standard bush walks when my brother noticed one of these 'roads less travelled'. In a rare moment of adventurous spontaneity, my Dad decided that it would be fun to try this track out, just to see where it ended up. Well, to be honest I don't remember many of the details, just the important ones. Like what was meant to be a short 1.2km stroll before lunch turned out to be a 10km hike through vastly overgrown terrain. It was hard and it was hot and we were so hungry! I also remember the barrage of complaints my Dad had to endure from his four hot and hungry children. But I do also remember at some points along the way moments of spectacular beauty. There was one section of the path that lead to a tall rocky waterfall. I remember being amazed by the size and beauty of it and I was disappointed when it was time to move on. I'm sure my memory is amplifying the magnificence of that waterfall, but I like the way I remember it. There was another spot where the dense humid rainforrest cleared and suddenly we were looking over a cliff face at acres and acres of National Park lands, as far as the eye could see. It was truely spectacular. Breath taking.

That is the sort of journey I feel like I'm on at the moment. Having walked through 5 miscarriages, there is a certain familiarity about this season of grief. But loosing my perfectly healthy Hudson boy at full term, exactly one week before our scheduled c-section... this is a different path. This path is vastly overgrown and rugged. The air inside the rainforrest is not warm and humid as in the summer. But it is the trapped-in, bitter cold air of the mountain winter. The Forrest all around is thick and the light is shut out by the blanketing canopy overhead, as if to mock my uncertainty. It is not clear which way the path ahead will lead and there is no way of telling what is coming with the next bend. At times the path is narrow and slippery, and you have to support yourself with the unreliable moss-covered vines hanging from the branches of the trees above. Sometimes the side of the path suddenly drops away completely and you're left teetering along the edge of a cliff. Some parts of the path are so steep and so slippery that you need to crawl on your hands and knees, in the mud, to steady yourself. And there is no way of telling how much further the path will lead. I am cold and I'm frightened. And I wish I had never set foot on this path. I long to be in the warmth of home, but that place of peace seems so far away that it is hard to imagine ever finding my way back there again.

But if I stop for a moment and let my soul be still, I can see that I am actually surrounded by unspeakable beauty. The trees in the Forrest are tall and dark, but they are also magnificent. The Forrest is also full of life. I'm not alone in the wilderness!! The birds are merry, there are wallabies grazing in the thickets. Even the moss covered vines that I resent having to rely on at times are very beautiful in their own way. It is good for my soul to stop and take in the beauty. The beauty does not make the path ahead any easier, but it does make it less frightening. It assures me that there is peace to be found in the midst of my confusion.

Grief is a journey. But the path is unpredictable and the length unknown. It is cold, frightening and unnerving. The instinct is to run. To try to get away from the fear. But it is good to stop along the way. Don't run... the path ahead is long and unpredictable. If you try to rush through it, you will be more likely to loose your footing and run out of strength. Walk at your own pace. Take time to stop and seek out the beauty. Look for what is beautiful. You will be surprised by what you see if you just give yourself time to stop and look around. Savor the beautiful moments along the way because it is from these that you will draw strength and courage when the path once again awakens your fear.

I will close by sharing one of the beautiful moments I stopped to savour today. Two verses from an old Hymn that tenderly drew me out of myself and opened my eyes to the beauty that is all around...

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
wondrously, Jesus, is found in thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
than thou my Saviour, art to me.

I am not not alone in the wilderness!!

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