Homebodies - Strange topic for the Valentine weekend


By Rita Friesen

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The days are surely lengthening, the sun is breaking though before I am breaking my fast. Evenings are getting longer. It is easier to be cheerful and think clear thoughts when the sun brightens my world. My thoughts… still often grappling with hard truths.

The book ‘The Broken Way’ by Ann Voskamp has phrases that penetrate my shell and haunt me, in a good way. The thoughts expressed linger, sometimes as a vapor, flitting into my understanding and then silently drifting away. Sometimes as an epiphany, words capturing my unformed thoughts. And it is good.

One of her chapters is entitled ‘What’s Even Better than a Bucket List’. Ann speaks of our fleeting life and asks us to know this: “you are where you are for such a time as this – not to make an impression but to make a difference. We aren’t here to one-up one another, but to help one another up.” A bucket list isn’t wrong, but no certain place, or thing, can bring the satisfaction like having a purpose can. Life is about purpose and passion and meaning. It is the human connections we have that make life worth the living. This topic has come up in conversation with friends and I understand the value of life having a purpose. Sometimes I need to be reminded.

The book is about dealing with grief and being real. “There is no fear in letting tears come. Sadness is a gift to avoid the nothingness of numbness, and all hard places need water. Grief is a gift, and after a rain of tears there is always more of you than before. Rain always brings growth.” Experience speaking buck up, be strong, don’t weaken and cry. Hogwash. Granted there is a time for all that, but there is a time to be real. To allow grief to trickle down your cheeks and clog your breathing. To howl with the pain of life. To let others see the real me. We applaud and honor the joy and peace emotions, let’s grant grief and sorrow an equal value.

It is not a common desire to embrace suffering. We seldom wish to speak of it. I recently read an article that compared life with cancer as a pilgrimage. A journey of self discovery. It was a well written article, and having completed the reading of it, my first thought was that I would rather complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage than the Camino de Cancer. Voskamp explains that the word suffer comes from the Latin ‘to bear under’, and goes on to say that suffering is an act of surrender, to bear under that which is not under our control. Few of us wish to live a life that is not under our control. “ Maybe more than we can’t stand physical suffering, we can’t stand not feeling in control”. I noted the word ‘feeling’ in control, for seldom are we truly in control.

Strange topic for the Valentine weekend, but truthfully, if we cannot love and accept ourselves, we struggle to love and accept others.