Thursday, February 2, 2023

Joy Unspeakable in the Midst of Pain

Joy Unspeakable in the Midst of Pain

I haven't been actively blogging here, but I have been focusing on being already happy in the moment. Have I succeed every minute of every day? No, I have not. Have I succeeded better than I was when I started? Absolutely. I am a normally happy person. I just found myself for several months in difficult circumstances that made experiencing happiness more of a challenge. Life is like that sometimes, like when you have a loss of some kind that makes your heart feel heavy and not at all happy. A dear friend of mine is facing the demise of a beloved pet right now. She's normally upbeat and positive and is managing even now to focus on the positive and on letting go of her animal soul mate. Times like that make it a challenge to feel happy, but I know that deep down, though his condition weighs on her, she knows that he will be met at the Rainbow Bridge by those who have gone before him. Those animal buddies who tussled with him on this side of the veil will meet him on the other side and play with him there too.

The woman I blogged about in the beginning, who inspired me to start this new web page, appears to be going through a trying time herself. Last week when I made my Monday trek to the restaurant where she works, I sensed that something was amiss. I couldn't tell what was going on, only that something wasn't quite right. This week the entire family is absent from both restaurants, so I can only surmise that something major--like a death or serious illness of a family member--has wrenched them all away at the same time. If their families of origin are still in India, then I imagine that they must have flown over there to be where they are needed at this difficult time. No doubt I'll find out more when they return. In the meantime, I send heartfelt blessings their way.

This is a good reminder that being positive and upbeat--being an "already happy" person--doesn't mean that nothing happens to you to make you sad. Loss is loss; and grief is grief. We all experience loss, and we all go through grief. However, I can speak from personal experience that the death of a loved one doesn't have  to overwhelm us completely. I'm not saying that there will not be tears or sadness or missing that someone special. You'll experience those things of course, but sometimes the veil on the other side is lifted enough for us to see what it's like over there. Then we are reminded that when we cry over a loss, we cry for ourselves and others affected by the loss. We do not cry for the one who has passed over to the over side. That is like weeping in sorrow for someone who has won the lottery and suddenly become a multi-millionaire. Why on earth would you do that? It makes no sense.

The experience that taught me about joy in the midst of grief was the death of my beloved Granny in Kentucky. She and I were very close. We were definitely part of the same soul group, and we recognized each other upon sight pretty much. I was 13 and she was in her 60s. We were meeting for the first time basically, although we had technically met before when I was younger. This was the first time we had spent any significant time together and the very first time we spent any time together on our own. I will write more about this time in my life, but for now, suffice it to say that we bonded instantly and became fast friends from that point on. I spent many summers with her in Kentucky during my teenage years, and I kept going back to visit in my twenties and thirties.

She was 91, I believe, when she died. It wasn't sudden. It had been the slow demise of old age, but her mind stayed sharp much of the time until the end. I made one last trip to see her a couple of months before she passed. I flew to Orlando and then drove up to see my Granny while she was alive and still alert. I knew then that it would be the last time and it was. While I was staying in Florida for a couple of months, we got the call that she was gone. Although I was sad and shaken by the call, I had been expecting it, so my best friend and I loaded up the car and drove to Kentucky. We stopped one night along the way since there was no point in hurrying at this point. We got there the next day in plenty of time to meet up with some of the other family members in the only nearby town with a hotel. The next day we all got dressed and headed for the funeral. My sister had flown in that morning so we met her at the funeral home too.

I hugged everyone in my family then took a seat with my sister and my buddy, who had known my Granny for decades and had spent enough time with her to know what a wonderful matriarch she was. Once the funeral music started and people began to weep more because of the choice of songs, I became very aware of my Granny's spirit standing right next to me where there was an empty seat. I sensed her energy as clear as day as she hovered there in that place, witnessing her own funeral and trying to comfort her loved ones. I was overwhelmed by this amazing sense of joy. It emanated from this spot, and I knew it was coming from this being who had been my Granny in this life. From that moment on, I found it utterly impossible to cry for her passing. One time, months later, I cried a little bit when I recalled how soft her hands were, despite how hard she worked all her life. That was it. The only tears shed. It wasn't because I didn't love her. On the contrary, I loved her very much and had continued to call her periodically after I moved to Seattle, even once she went into the care facility. She had been an important part of my life and my childhood. Yet it felt like a dishonoring of the love and joy I felt in that moment for me to shed tears for myself. There was clearly no reason to cry for her. She was filled without radiant joy and had been released from the physical body that had served her faithfully for so long, but had recently begun to crumble from the inside out.

When I felt her there so strongly, I leaned to the left towards my sister and said, "She's right here. Standing beside me and she is filled with so much joy." My sister knew that it was true and started weeping even more. The words that came to me that described what I was sensing coming from my Granny's spirit were from a passage in the Bible in I Peter 1:8, where the writer says, "...yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Sitting there in that funeral for my beloved Granny, all I could feel coming from her was this joy unspeakable, and full of glory. I could not in the face of all that joy shed another tear for myself and my loss. Yes, I would miss her at times, but I knew that I could talk to her any time I wanted, and I've done that. I've spoken to her, and I've sensed her presence many times over the years. I know you can't really take my word for it, and it may not be of help to know that someone else can feel those who have passed over, but there are those of us out here who can do just that. I have experienced more than once departed loved ones on the other side, doing the best they can to comfort those left behind. It is always the departed trying to comfort those who remain on this side. It is always those who have experienced the "joy unspeakable" who are trying to help those who are experiencing pain unspeakable because of the loss.

I had a customer one time in my store who was wearing a wrist band sort that was clearly a military remembrance of some sort. I asked her about it because the one she was remembering as a fallen hero was dancing all around her, trying his best to get her attention to let her know that her brother was fine. More than fine, he was ecstatic. I could sense the heavy grief that surrounded her heart, but when I told her what I was feeling and asked her a little bit about the kind of energy he had, she started crying and said, "I thought I felt him, but I wasn't sure." I reassured her that he was more than fine and that this was not a tragedy. He was so happy now. When she left my store, her relief was apparent. That sense of heaviness was no longer wrapped around her like a shawl. Little brother had finally gotten through to his sister.

The point of all this is to say that grief is part of being a sentient being, and it isn't limited to humans. If you can feel anything, then you are subject to grief as well as joy, but I'm standing here saying that in the midst of grief and pain and loss, there is still the capacity for joy and happiness. Feel your pain. Allow it to be there, but also allow room for the light of joy to illuminate these darkened moments.