By Pamela Prime —
Easter and the days leading up to it are a sacred time for many. In some ways, this is an extraordinary time, a time filled with mystery. It was a time I could not fully relate to because it was about the mysteries of Jesus and didn’t have much to do with me or my life. It really was not until my daughter died of Sudden Infant Syndrome that I really appreciated this as sacred time, a time to identify with the God who suffers and the God who rises.
I began to see it as an ordinary time, a time that was about me and God. I could sit with God now in God’s suffering, and I could tell God about my suffering. It became safe to explore my feelings in the midst of God’s love and compassion, and, as I did, those feelings slowly dissipated.
There was a time, after Maggie’s death, that I thought I would never wear colors again. I felt so depleted of life energy, so lost in the darkness. I remember wondering if I could ever smile and feel inside that the smile was authentic. Like Jesus, I felt alone, abandoned and even cried out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that dark place, I shared with God my pain, my fears, my sense of emptiness, and I most often shared without words but with my tears.
Did I feel God holding me? I don’t think so. I probably couldn’t feel much but the pain. But I trusted that God was there, and slowly that dark place within me started to heal because God was there. Slowly, I felt the love begin to warm my heart again…the love that swells within us when we are free to feel.
So, I know something about suffering and death and rising. I know that if I want to rise from the darkness, I must do four things: 1) I must truly surrender to what I can not change (and I surely could not change the death of my child), 2) I must be willing to fully feel the feelings that my body is holding for me about the loss…the anger, fear, sadness, resentment etc., 3) I must hold myself with love and compassion as I feel whatever arises within me and patiently wait until I have felt all that I am holding within myself, and 4) I must give thanks for having been given the grace to honor my feelings in such a way.
I now know that if I do these things I will rise. Love, forgiveness, and gratitude flow naturally from a heart that has been heard.
I would never choose some of the events in my life nor would I ask for a different life, for God has used each moment of my life to bring me to love, to joy, to peace and, little by little, to God’s very self.
Today, I can happily say Happy Easter to my grandchildren as they scamper around the garden, looking for the colored eggs that the Easter Bunny carefully hid for them. I know my smile is authentic, and my spring colored dress is a symbol of the healing of my heart. I live in the awareness of the ordinary and extraordinary presence of the gentle and gracious love of God!
Pamela Prime is a mother and a grandmother and lives in Twain Harte and San Francisco. She and her husband have a small retreat with three guest houses in Twain Harte, called Two Bears Dancing!
Pamela is a Spiritual Director, an educator and a writer. She has a master’s degree in Systematic Theology from The Graduate School of Theology in Berkeley. Her first book When the Moon is Dark We can See the Stars was published in 2008. It is the story of how faith can hold us in our suffering, awaken us, and bring us into deeper awarenesses of God’s love and guidance. Pamela has a 4-month-old daughter who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She also has a son who at the age of 16, committed suicide. To reach Pamela or learn more about her book, visit www.whenthemoonisdark.com.