Sacred Sorrow

January 14, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

My first awareness of change within me came as I began to reflect on how I performed the mundane responsibilities from which I felt so alienated. Though I was not completely alive to them, I was able at least to think about them, if only from a distance. I was struck by how wonderfully ordinary life is. Simply being alive became holy to me. As I saw myself typing exams, chatting with a student on the way to class, or tucking one of my children into bed, I sensed I was beholding something sacred. My encounters with students presented astonishing opportunities to listen and encourage. Bedtime with Catherine, David, and John allowed me to convey the blessing and love of God to them. I was not yet fully alive to these ordinary moments, but I began to glimpse how profound they were.

In other words, though I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before – not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it. I learned gradually that the deeper we plunge into suffering, the deeper we can enter a new, and different, life – a life no worse than before and sometimes better. A willingness to face the loss and to enter into the darkness is the first step we must take. Like all first steps, it is probably the most difficult and takes the most time.

– Gerald L. Sittser, loser of his mother, wife and daughter in a car accident with a drunken driven. Taken from his book: A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss.

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