After my physician husband completed his tour of duty in Vietnam, the Air Force sent him to a base in Selma, Alabama. He was the commander of the medical group. My husband and I, and our two young daughters, lived in a converted barracks. Each morning, dozens of maids would walk from town – a distance of about four miles – to clean houses on base, and then walk back to Selma.
I couldn’t believe it.
It was still dark when I heard a voice in the distance. The woman was singing “My Lord What a Morning,” a famous African-American spiritual. Her rich contralto voice, a voice worthy of the Metropolitan Opera, rolled out over the lush green countryside. As she approached the base, her voice became louder and the melody became more complex. This happened every weekday.
The woman was a walking sermon and, when I heard her song, I felt like I was living a sacred moment. Though decades have passed, her song is still in my mind. My eyes fill with tears every time I hear “My Lord What a Morning.” I can’t sing it without crying. While I have always been aware of life’s sacred moments, I became more aware of them after four loved ones died in 2007.
Your idea of sacred moments may differ from mine, yet these moments can lift you up and keep you on the recovery path. The word “sacred” has many meanings and applies to beliefs, rituals, places, objects, art, music, nature, and experiences. Sacred moments – an orange sunrise, eating with the family, the devotion of a dog, children’s laughter – happen every day. We may not see them, however, due to the pain and confusion and stress of grief.
In her book, “The Courage to Grieve,” author Judy Tatelbaum says we need to support and love ourselves to recover from loss. “Mourning may require self-supports different from the ones we are used to,” she writes. We may need to be more active or quiet, she continues, think or talk more, or express feelings aloud or in a journal.
Being aware of life’s sacred moments is also a way to love and support ourselves. The ability to spot these moments takes time, but this skill is worth our time. Sacred moments offer comfort. Sacred moments can create community. Sacred moments give you hope. Losing my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law within nine months taught me something important: Sacred moments can be times of self-discovery.
When you are “in” the moment, you get to the bedrock of your identity. Once you hit bedrock, the only way you can go is up. Every day contains sacred moments. Which ones are sacred to you? I hope you will be aware of them, revel in them, and take them into your soul. Another day has come – your miracle – and you may find yourself singing “My Lord What a Morning.”