Bluejay

Today’s post is the last  from month of posts on loss.  Seanna Tucker, after opening our theme with her poem Daughter Grief, is back to share another poem .  This poem focuses on loss in nature, its connection to our own losses, and transitions nicely into our next theme of Breath. You can find more of Seanna’s work on her tumblr

Saw a Bluejay
Lying on the ground
Passed death
Wanna pick it up
Touch it’s wings
Feel the beauty in it’s feathers
Say – whisper –
Everything’s gonna be alright

Find it’s nest
That surely it must have fallen from
Or been on it’s way to
Protect it’s children
Not quite blue yet
Searching for their color
The way babies do

Sing a lullaby while I wait
For another parent to arrive
So the vultures or the snakes
Or whatever predator
Cannot attack these defenseless
Flightless
Little ones

All this passes
As I see a vibrant bird
Lying on its back
in the middle of a sidewalk
It’s peaceful

And I think
Surely, if such a heaven exists
This bird is there
And all the other birds
No longer afraid of predators
Flying through
All of their colors
On wavelengths that we cannot yet see

Surely, if such a place exists
This bird might know my father
And I can whisper one small request

“Say Hi for me”

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Unwanted Goodbyes

By: Autumn Elizabeth

Sometimes all of us have to say goodbye to people and things we aren’t ready to lose yet.  If you sit in an airport long enough, you will certainly see at least one tear-filled farewell, at least one hug that looks like a desperate attempt to cling to a love one who will soon be somewhere else.  Sometimes people lose jobs they loved, homes they loved, sometimes even a broken cup can be a goodbye we have to say too soon.

Of course the ultimate unwanted goodbye is often death.  Although this is one that I have trouble understanding.  Sure, I get that death is loss, but mostly it is a loss for those of us who remain.  Although I don’t know exactly what death holds, as someone who believes in the ultimate love of the divine, I see death as a step to gain something rather than a loss.  Perhaps this is why I am utterly shaken by my grandmother’s last days.

At 96, my grandmother has been a pillar of faith since I was born.  She is deeply and beautifully Catholic and her relationship with her faith is part of what draws me back to the Catholic Church every now and then.  Yet, even at 96, even as a person who truly believes in heaven, my grandmother struggles with her impending death.  More than struggles in fact, she refuses her impending death.  A she sits in the hospital, all my attempts to say goodbye to a woman who has loved me, taught me and shaped me in more ways than she knows are totally unwelcome.

So this is my unwelcome goodbye. I am forced to face the fact that no one’s faith is perfect, that everyone questions the big picture sometimes, even 96-year-old french Catholics.  So I say goodbye to my picture perfect ideal of my grandmother’s faith, and instead accept that when it comes to faith, we can all learn from each other. Perhaps it is now my turn to teach my grandmother something about faith.

For you see I truly believe that death is part of life, and I hope that when death finally comes, I can greet it like an old friend. Having been forced to face my own mortality at the ripe old age of 14 when a medical injection stopped my heart, I have developed an understanding of death one might expect from a person with a few more years on them. I don’t pretend to know what heaven is, or what death will be like, but I do know that because of God’s love, death is nothing to fear. My faith and my experiences have helped me see death as one of the many beautiful mysteries of faith.

I do not wish to say goodbye to my grandmother just yet, and I wish we still had many years of church services to attend together. We do not and I have to learn to accept that. But I do have hope that in the few days we have left together I can give her a bit of my hard-won wisdom on death, if only through my willingness to give her unwanted goodbyes.

Searching for Your Words….

As we look toward September, we are searching for your words, photos, wisdom and prayers on the theme of BREATH.

We want your thoughts on breath of life, yogic breath, the breath of God, moments that took your breath away, and moments where you found your breath again.  Breathing through pain or pleasure, fear or hope, we want to hear and see how breath has entered into your spiritual journey.

So take a deep breath and send your posts to sophiaspockets [at] gmail.com.

With wisdom, love …and lint,

Jenni and Autumn

 

P.S. If you want to help breath change the world, check out the Yoga Gangsters Fundraiser which happens in September too!

Faith, Hope and Loss

Today we have another post on the loss of faith. This time the post is from Josiah Taylor of Phoenix, AZ. He writes about losing faith and hope, and maybe regaining them too. 

I was asked to write about loss. I completely blew it off from the start, thinking ‘The hell do I know about loss?’ I’ve not had anyone I’ve been close to die. I’ve no story about a friend or family member with a terminal illness or their sudden departure. I don’t live in some sort of war-zone, where death and disease are the norm. I’ve lived a very simple, comfortable, middle-class life well enough.

After some thought, several things came to mind. The first was of the people I know personally who have experienced a traumatic loss of someone they held dear and what that means to them. The second, one great loss I’ve had was in the destruction of a particular friendship. That story, however, is for another time and subject. The last thought was oddly so late in coming considering how recent and prevalent it has been: the most destructive loss of my life thus far (and, I hope, ever) – the loss of my faith.

I’m sure it varies from person to person, but for myself, my faith was my life. I got through most of my childhood and early teens purely on faith. It wasn’t even a blind faith. Over the years, I had seen, heard, and experienced personally more than enough to make what I believed feel like fact. It was a faith I would have died for. Rather, it was the One in whom I had faith that I would have died for.

In the last year, that all went away. My spirit became so utterly broken. It’s a strange time for me. I heard lies recognized them as such, and chose to believe them regardless of how destructive I knew they were. Stranger still is when I began to think about Hell and concluded that I really wouldn’t mind going there. The strangest part is that I can’t even tell you how it got to be that way. I think I just kept believing those destructive lies and claiming them for myself as though they were true.  All the while knowing exactly what I was doing.

What was once my willingness to die for my faith became my desire to die without it. As I mentioned, my faith was my life. Without that, everything became meaningless.  I was, however, not empty and emotionless without my faith. I was filled to the brim with anger, hatred, bitterness, pain, and despair. Someone simplified it for me one day: I couldn’t even hope for hope.

What got me out? Oh yeah, I got out. Thank God, I got out. It was a choice. It sounds so simple, but it was not so easy. I’ve found that I always always always have a choice. I chose to finally accept what I knew was true even, if I didn’t believe it at all. I chose to love God again. My brokenness stretched over a full year, but my choice to believe again and change could have been made far earlier than it was. A choice isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.

My identity had been tied closely to my faith. When I lost my faith, I lost who I was. The beginning stages of recovering that faith only began a few months ago and I have quite a ways to go still to being whole. Yet, my loss was not permanent, even though I thought it was. The ability to regain what I thought I had lost forever feels like something bigger than a miracle.  I found that hope exists even when you can’t hope for it, even when you can’t feel it.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Today’s post on loss comes from Jessica Nichole, MA PLPC, who is a Pediatric and Adolescent counselor in the St. Louis area.  She writes about the kind of losses that are part of daily life, and how accepting them might be the wisest thing any of us can do.

When we speak of loss, often the first thing that comes to mind is the death of a loved one. However, we experience loss on a daily basis. With each choice you make, you face the loss of the possibilities that another choice offered you. Sometimes the consequences of choices are more apparent than others.  Sometimes, the only way is to lose.

Winter is always a challenge for me, and this year was no different. I lost an important person to me, lost an important job, and lost myself for a while.

In working to finish my masters degree in counseling, I found an internship site that was a blessing. It was a challenge, it was long hours and hard work, and I loved every minute of it. I was given an opportunity to be a part of people’s lives, and introduced to a team that I was honored to be included in. But, all good things must come to an end, and my internship finished this past winter. It should have been a happy moment. I was graduating with my masters’ degree in counseling. Isn’t that an accomplishment? But it all felt so…unfinished. Empty.

I tried begging, pleading, anything short of bribery to be allowed to stay on the team, but alas there were no open positions. I had to leave the first team that felt like home. I found myself working more hours at my other job, but lacking in any kind of satisfaction.  On top of that, my partner and I were struggling, and I had no insight into why. I kept asking myself and everyone around me the same question: “Where do I go from here?”

I just existed for a time. A cycle of despair, sadness, and denial; struggling to exist in the old roles I used to play. My relationship with my partner continued to decline, one of my close friends was no longer a part of my life in the way that I was used to them being there, and I was stuck at my dead end job doing the same thing I’ve been doing for years. So, what’s a girl to do?

I took a shower. A long hot shower in the dark.  This is where I have always done my best thinking, and it’s my go-to coping skill (counselor in training, remember?) when I struggle.  And boy, was I struggling.  I stood there, thinking about the same question that I had been asking everyone else, “where do I go from here?” and clarity came.

I need to let go.

I needed to let go of the future I imagined at my internship site. It was gone, I had already lost it, I just refused to acknowledge it. I needed to let go to the future path of my friendship that I had envisioned, the nature of the relationship had changed; holding onto it was only harming myself. I needed to let go of the relationship that I expected to have with my partner; having unrealistic expectations was doing nothing but poisoning my mind.

Letting go isn’t about being helpless, its about asking for help. It’s giving life over to the path that you may not be able to see. Faith, in a manner of speaking, that what’s in store for you is greater than what you’re desperately trying to cling to. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, and letting go was creating the freedom to things to take the path that was in store for me.

The more I attempted to cling to my imagined control over these situations, the more immobilized I felt. Making the conscious decision to let go, I began searching for new jobs and setting up interviews. I reached out to my friend and was honest about what I was feeling and how I was looking forward to the new directions our friendship could take. I was more honest with my partner than I had been in years, and it resulted in a stronger bond than ever before. Acknowledging my losses allowed me to gain new insight and new directions.  My internship site called me. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I let go, a position opened up that they needed me to fill ASAP.

A Loss of Faith

By: Jenni Taylor

I’ve never had an easy time staying away from extremes, or the a + b = c method. If killing living things is evil, and ants are alive, then isn’t killing ants evil? If Christians believe the bible, and the bible says sell all your possessions, then aren’t you lying if you say you are a Christian and you’re rich? If God is love, and we are loved by God, why the hell is there pain and agony in the world?

Common questions,  at least, I hope I’m not the only one that ever questioned the morality of destroying an anthill. I was taught to ignore these questions, or look for answers later, when I was older. But how can you ignore what is right in front of you?

I’m a daddy’s girl, and my dad is the best man on earth. If you’ve met him, you know what I mean. Once upon a time my dad was a pastor, the best. But then all of a sudden he wasn’t, and then he was a truck driver, and sometimes a roofer with broken red hands, and then he was sad for eight years.

Every day he would pace and pray in our basement. The rest of the family would go about our day, still sneaking down to do laundry in the corner, or grab something from the freezer, trying our best not to interrupt. The more I saw him pray, the angrier I became.

If God wasn’t listening to my dad’s prayers, he sure as hell wasn’t going to listen to mine. I was taught all my life to love God. Not anymore. Not when it was pretty clear that he doesn’t actually love us back.

So I stopped loving God.

But not really.

Because if I really had stopped, it wouldn’t have hurt so much. I wouldn’t have felt so betrayed. I would have gotten over it.

But I didn’t get over it, and it was ripping me up. I couldn’t stop crying, because after all this time it still hurt like hell to know that everything I believed wholeheartedly was a lie. God left, closed up shop, went home. He wasn’t listening.

I had lost something, and it hurt in places I never knew could hurt before. It took leaving everything and moving to the middle of the jungle for me to even begin to work through my anger.

Sometimes it feels silly to even talk about this loss of faith when so many people experienced real loss- the loss of family, of love, of a parent, of a child.  Standing up for a round two in the fight to win back my  faith was  so hard, and brought up so much pain. Why didn’t I just quit? Was it even really that important?

Yeah. To me it was.

Looking at it now, it’s not a loss anymore. I thought my dad had lost something, but he hadn’t. It took a long time, but his life is finally exploding in incredible ways. He never doubted the faithfulness of God, and now it’s my turn to give that type of faith a shot. Instead being lost, my faith has a whole new beginning now. I can really say it was worth it.  My boxing match with the universe now feels more like holding hands and keeping my eyes open wide enough to listen and learn.

Combining the loss, the anger, the betrayal, the search, and the peace slowly creeping into my soul I’ve gained a weird sort of patience. I might be so bold as to call it gaining a little wisdom.

A Crazy World

Today’s post on loss comes from A Syrian Girl, who writes from the midst of a war zone.  Like many many people in Syria today, she knows a great deal about loss. In her post, she shares the pain of loss, the wisdom of friendship and her honest request for prayers.

Being a Syrian and going through a lot during this hideous war, I have lost hope for anything good in this life. I don’t think that there is a single Syrian who lives inside Syria who hasn’t lost a dear person from his/her family or friends, a house, a neighborhood, or even a city. And the story that surrounds these losses is always too ugly.

The story that I’d like to share is about a friend of mine. His name is Elias Salloum. He was forced, like lots of young Syrian men, to fight with the government army. Till the unfortunate day came, it was on November 5th, 2012. Elias was fighting along with his fellow soldiers in Doma (the Damascus countryside) and was shot in his stomach and passed out. The only soldier who was near him had to move on and leave the place.

When he came back the next day with a group of soldiers to collect the injured and the dead, to his surprise, Elias was missing.  No one could figure out if Elias was dead or alive or how he became missing. As of today, Elias is still missing. His family had a memorial service for his soul, and is acting as if he’s dead.

"I am worried that I will knock on your door and find no answer" - Fairouz

“I am worried that I will knock on your door and find no answer” – Fairouz

Elias was a very good person and loved by everyone who knew him. I asked him once for a favor, and he helped me. He took me in his car, putting himself in great danger, to take me back to my home  in 2011. I ask that everyone who reads this story pray for Elias, even if he’s dead. Some of his friends still believe he’s alive. I certainly hope so.

Sophia Sighting: Loss, Death and Birth

Continuing with our theme of loss, new mother Natalie M. Petty shares a photo that represents her experience with the loss of her Grandfather, a few days after the birth of her first child.

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Location: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

My grandpa passed away at the end of this past July. I can’t even begin to express how much he meant to me and how much he will be missed. I’ll never forget the trips to the beach, the extreme decibel of his snoring or his infectious laugh. I’m so blessed to have had him in my life.  He got  to see me walk down the aisle and he was able to to see pictures of my newborn son. I didn’t spend as much time with him as I would have liked because he lived far away, but he always made me feel like the luckiest granddaughter in the world when I did see him. This isn’t “goodbye” for me, it’s “until we meet again”.