“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)

I stumbled upon this poem again, last night, in a book I'm reading called, "Slow Love: How I lost my job, put on my pajamas and found happiness" by Dominique Browning, editor of Home & Garden before the magazine was closed down and everyone laid off in Nov. of 2008. It's an easy read and enjoyable. It's not unlike, "Eat Pray Love" except it doesn't purport to be a spiritual book, just a story of her life after being fired. She talks about eating, a lot. And about love, complicated and messy. And she talks about prayer, a little bit.

Mostly she talks about trying to find purpose and meaning in her life, and to some degree finding it through gardening. Makes me want to pick up a shovel, at least in more than the figurative way I have been shoveling this year. The book, and the poem, remind me how far I've come and how sometimes the most difficult things that happen to us can somehow produce gifts as well.

Sometimes. There are some sorrows for which, as we move through it, or maybe just learn to live again with the sorrow as the dominant reality of life,  whatever gifts life brings us will never compensate for the sorrow itself. Maybe I'm wrong about that? Only time will tell, I suppose.