Monday, May 11, 2015

lessons from within the sacred space

If losing has taught me one thing, it's sacredness. There's something about quiet, still space that's only punctuated by a symphony of breath. In the mix and mess and chaos of dementia, I'd forgotten what it means for one's soul to slow.

I am often sucked into the hustle. Even in our visits, when it's obvious he's not subject to life as we know it, I find myself busy chasing him down hallways, trying to fill him in on the details, forcing my agenda on his. I see the roll of words flipping over and over in my head, hoping the right ones will simply settle down on my soul. Often I feel overwhelmed at all the noise and chaos, pure madness floating frantically over the facility's air.

He sleeps more now. And I have to sit and stare at him. It's heavy in there, the air and the feelings weighing down on my soul. I thought it'd make me cry, sort of desperate and pained. I thought I'd get to work, trying to organize what's in his closet or straighten up the few things that lay about here or there. But I sit, still and unmoved. I sit under the heaviness of the air in his room. And it comforts me like a heavy quilt on a cold winter night.

This place -heavy and slow- is sacred. Maybe sacred and hustle are antonyms. And as he's dying I understand the depth of their differences. He sleeps and I sit. He sleeps and we sit, one on the edge of the bed, the other balanced on the window sill. We sit and stare and listen to the breaths that slowly draw in and out of a body I don't recognize as Dad's. This is our sacred place.

It's a place I cannot share with words or pictures because those all fall short. It's a space that's taught me. In those moments of stillness, where the madness outside his room continues while the world keeps on spinning, I realize I'm learning. In the sacred, He impresses the morals I crave upon me.

Though I hold that place dear, afraid sharing it's itty bitty details will spill it out for all to see, it's lessons are plenty. Not one to hold secret the truths of our lives, here are my favorite three:

The danger of a "let's hustle" environment is self-centeredness. Though we often claim our hustle is for the betterment of others, it's often what causes us to run right past the very people who need us. I've spent many visits trying to fill him in, to count his steps, to roam all of the grounds. Visits that I enjoyed but left feeling a bit of empty. I've poured myself out, all the details spilling on the concrete path beneath our feet, only to realize he doesn't need my stories. He simply needs me there.

Who is begging for an unadulterated moment with you?

I thought when someone I love died I'd be beside myself. I thought I'd fight to hold on to them, to enjoy every moment, to capture what I could of their essence. And I did for a while. I swam as ferociously against the stream as I could, I denied it and ignored it, thinking my cold shoulder would turn death away. But I learned that my struggle was selfish, concerned only with the wishes I wanted seen realized before he was gone.

But in embracing the promise dying holds for him, a promise of no more suffering, no more disease to steal from him, no more emergencies and startling phone calls. As dying happens -as it surely will-, know there is peace. Enter in the sacred space that's a threshold between Here and Heaven. In listening to his shallow breath and looking over his sickened form, I know what's inevitable and I'm thankful for what it offers him.

Losing my dad is the biggest hurt I've ever endured. It felt like being hit by a car and healed without a single ounce of pain medication. The pain is unmatched. Some well-meaning people tell me I'll get over it. But I don't believe dying is something we need to get over now or ever. In fact, I think it leaves a scar, deep and ugly, on our soul.

Like our the tales our physical scars tell, so do the marks on hearts. We have loved and we have lost. We have hurt and we have healed. And we can live to tell the tale.

I dare you to find your sacred places. 
They often look like thresholds where your comfort zone and the great unknown meet. It is there you can still, sit and learn. Yes friends, find them and still and bring their lessons along for your living.


  1. This is a powerful post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  2. I love #3. It is so true and speaks directly to anyone who has ever truly lost someone close to them. Good lessons in this post lady.


  3. Isn't it freeing to stop fighting the inevitable-ness that is death? Things can really change when you start to think about what really awaits them after this life. It's hard not to feel the pain of the loss, but like you said what death offers believers is more.

  4. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvMay 11, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    #1 and #3 hit closest to home for me. Our culture is obsessed with being busy! Busy busy busy, like it's a badge of honor to wear. While filling our calendars with limitless tasks and meetings we are missing out on the world. Our time is better spent sitting still, observing, learning. The world spins fast enough on it's own. Also those scars are part of who you are and are in turn beautiful.

  5. poppytailsandtrailsMay 12, 2015 at 1:08 AM

    What a post, thank you for sharing. Your words are/we perfect. Sending you big hugsx

  6. Oh my holy night. I'm bawling. This was beautiful.

  7. Thank you for being here to read and to appreciate and to understand.

  8. Girl, yes. You know. I know you know. And I'm thankful for the healing.

  9. YES. There's something so beautiful about realizing it's part of the process. It seems to be this scary, weird thing far off in the future but it arrives. It arrives and scares us, but then it becomes a sort of comfortable, beautiful place.

  10. YES. Girl I hear you. Lately life has felt so running and doing and not taking a moment to appreciate what's here now. I'm thankful for a mind that realizes it, that worries about being present and aware about what's here and now instead of rushing around to be the Queen of All Busy Things.

  11. You are sweet. This is, just, thank you. It's the right kind of encouragement a tired, writing girl needs.


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