This past week has thrown me, and many others, up against this question once again: in the face of loss and grieving, how can it be meaningful to talk about living on the “Path of Joy” ?
Isn’t it almost an offense to the suffering of the human spirit? A shallow dismissal of the preciousness of the life that has been lost? A craven retreat into platitudes and distraction?
No. It isn’t. This week, in the face of the loss of beloved friend and colleague, Jeremy Taylor – a loss that has reverberated around the world for so many – it is my commitment and connection to The Path of Joy that is seeing me through.
For me, the Path of Joy centers in the Universalist conviction, and experience, that the Source Energy of Being is ever available and calling to us. It moves through us as nudges of intuition, feelings that can’t be ignored, pulls of new awareness and, yes, the images of our dreams that whisper, “this way… the meaningful and fulfilling life that offers your best gifts to the world is this way now…”
My life and ministry are centered in cultivating the spiritual practices that improve listening to that Inner Voice.
Choosing to listen is harder when we are grieving.
Grieving often feels like an immense obstacle we are desperate to avoid, a boulder that seems as though it is rolling pell-mell towards us, threatening to crush us underneath.
The fear of grieving, an emotional reality which almost all of us have known, starts here. And, yes, grieving can be isolating in a culture that overall is grief-avoidant, too often confusing pleasure and fulfillment. Still, there will always be those who are honored to companion us through grief.
All of us have had many experiences displacing difficult emotions such as grief and anger onto some safer target than the one they belong to.
It’s easier to get angry at the grocery checker who makes a mistake than the boss who controls your salary. It’s easier to feel sadness when your team loses than to mourn the loss of a friend.
But displaced anger and grief never really resolve themselves. They bounce like a hot potato from one object to another, perhaps with a moment of relief, but no real release that sets the energy they hold hostage free once more.
When we are hit with a heavy loss, the fear is that if we let ourselves feel the grief, fully and directly, it will overtake us like that boulder, flatten us completely, never end, and simply be more than we can bear.
This is not so. It really is true that what we can feel we can heal. Grieving, fully and directly experienced, does move the weight of sorrow through.
When we let ourselves feel grief, it will release its hold. Not all at once, of course. Grieving is a spiral journey. But if we stay with it, let it happen when it needs to, we will come out of the dark and into the light once again.
Moving through the spiral of grieving is essential to freeing our energy to live fully – and to reclaiming our precious memories as a blessing, rather than a fresh stab of pain.
Grieving returns us to our wholeness, the fullness of our Path of Joy.
This week I have been remembering, and experiencing, this truth. It was my friend, Jeremy Taylor who, many years ago, imparted to me this teaching.
And, not for the first time, I am grateful.