Deep gratitude to my dear friend and soulful sister of the past 30+ years, Olivia Oso, for her recommendation to me of this amazing book by Martín Prechtel - The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise. Coleman Barks, who translated the work of Rumi, states, "Read this necessary, very beautiful book, and then read it again. In her review, poet Mary Oliver states, "Beautifully written and wise ... precious and life-sustaining. Read carefully, and listen deeply." I am just in the beginning and already know this to be a great gift that I am indeed reading carefully and listening deeply to...
Deep bow of gratitude to Martín Prechtel. He is among those whose soulful wisdom offers us the opportunity - and for some, perhaps for the first time - to see, understand, embrace, and transform our suffering. He goes to the heart of carried and neglected loss and the great need we humans have to grieve. He also illuminates the gem of how it is that grief and praise are interwoven.
If we journey beneath the surface in American culture, in ourselves, in our families and relationships and beyond, we come to see more and more how it is that we humans get lost in pushing away and avoiding our grief. We grow dependent on any number of activities and belief systems to divert and distract and deny our grief - overworking, shopping till we drop, fixing and caretaking others (habitual caretaking can be very different from loving someone), "staying positive," or wallowing in negativity. We use alcohol or marijuana or opiates or cigarettes or food or exercise or image management or endlessly accumulating more stuff to take the edge off and numb. We move and move again, seeking those greener pastures somewhere out there. We develop the pattern of divorcing and remarrying the "same person," different clothes. We get hooked on taking the inventory of what is wrong with Others - those stupid relatives or friends or husbands/wives/partners, those idiot Republicans, those anti-American Democrats, those Mexicans and Muslims and Blacks and Gays and conservatives and liberals and on and on. We get depressed, pissed off, anxious, fearful. We build outer walls with people or whole nations not recognizing that those outer walls are a mirror for the walls we have built within ourselves. We start wars in our families or workplaces or other nations or right here at home in America. We shut up, shut down, and shut out anything that poses a risk to the world as we know it. We get stuck in our comfort zones and fearful to go beyond the familiarity of our patterns of escape, and even though these patterns cause us to suffer. Because once we do open that door, once we do lift that first veil of the fog of our delusions, we are at risk of allowing a small opening in our hearts and minds where there may not have been one for a very long time. Perhaps for generations. And once that veil is lifted, we are in the dangerous territory of the unknown where anything may happen. And anything is possible...
We live in a grief-phobic culture. And the cost to ourselves, to those we love, and to the planet is great. It is great. There is another way. May we have the courage to find it. May we discover and walk this Sacred and Soulful Heart Path together. Just imagine a world where we humans are increasingly opening our hearts wider and wider and the beautiful growth of new life and love that would spread all across this holy land reflecting the Divine Presence within us all. Blessed be. ~ Molly
|Art by Martín Prechtel|
Grief is a Shameless Dreamer
Grief is what living beings experience when what or whom they love dies or disappears.
Grief is not what people feel when they lose what they want, or lose what they want to happen, or when they don't get what they think they deserve. This is only disappointment. Not the same at all (very important not to confuse with grief).
- Grief is natural; to grieve the loss of what we love is as natural as peeing, eating, singing, dreaming, running, or looking under rocks for bugs to feed your frog.
- More importantly, grieving is necessary: when there is real loss, grieving should never be avoided or postponed; grieving is absolutely necessary. Without grief the world would cease to renew itself; the world would cease to exist.
- Grief is not a preference, for choosing to not have grief when grief is there is to defer and burden someone else with having to do your grieving. This makes the world a sick place.
- Grief is an obligation to the life one has been awarded, an obligation to life to make more life.
- To truly and freely grieve as an entire people can revive an entire culture just as much as it can bring back to life an individual.
- This necessity of active grieving when there is a deep loss of what we love can be done in many ways; it can take many forms, but is lost when it is simply a theatrical act, choreographed to mimic grief.
- Grief permeates life and grieving can take many forms, but grief can never be outrun or simply thought away, transcended or meditated into nonexistence. Necessary grief when shunned or unattended can easily hide for years, even generations, in the skeletal structure of the family collective psyche. Like light, matter, sound, and energy, grief will eventually manifest even among those in the future who did not consciously experience the loss.
- So, best to grieve when it's time, to save the world a lot of war and trouble.
- Grieving is a sacred art, not an art whose products should be sold or seen objectively. Grieving is an art that when it is fully known and made to actively happen in all its grandeur and integrity, is the backbone of all real peace. It is the art of all arts; it is the art behind all real art.
- Grief is not sorrow, though there are certainly stages of grieving that are sorrow-filled. Real grieving refuses to remain in sorrow.
- Grief is a phenomenon that must be purposely done, for grieving needs time and motion to allow the medicine of grief's dream to fully blossom into new life and to fill the loss.
- Grief is active.
- Grief is movement, not stagnation; real grieving never wallows.
- Only nations capable of the true art of grief, grieving their mistakes and the deeply felt losses they have endured or have caused to happen, can say that they are not pools of emotional stagnation dressed up in the spoils of ungrieved wars disguised as good business, heaping their unwept tears upon the poor and struggling as the currency of poverty.
- Grief has a sound, a sound that embarrasses the repressed and offends the oppressive; grief is the sound of being alive.
- Grief is not depression; a griever is not depressed. Depression comes from not being able to grieve, which converts our losses into violence.
- Grief is a shameless dreamer who thinks nothing of healing impossible despair head-on, of reionizing impossible situations, of healing impossible sickness, of depolarizing impossible hardheaded people. Grief thinks nothing of impossibility, only of what makes life more deliciously alive.
- Grief doesn't care if he's badly misunderstood, underestimated, or forgotten: he's not hurt because people run away when they see him coming, because grief has one real good friend.
- Grief is the best friend of Praise, because Praise is a grandiose griever!
- Without both Grief and Praise, life is only hate and mediocrity.
- Grief and Praise are the renters whose landlord is Love.
- Because they are best friends, both Grief and Praise live together in the same building, but in opposing quarters: in the left and right chambers of Love's great thumping house called the Heart.
- Together both Grief and Praise work hard to print their own money which they use to pay their rent to Love, for theirs is the common currency of life's great beauty.
- Praise also has a sound, that always moves and motivates but never ends. One can only catch up within earshot of Praise's sounds or pull away, but Praise of life never ends.
- Grief is a worker on life's big highways, and Praise is Grief's eternal freight train, forever hauling the vision of life's bigger picture from stars whose light hasn't got here yet, which Grief uses to refill the potholes of our losses.
- Praise is Grief's voice and neither ever disappears, because they are the sound of all parts of the world and universe, each living according to it's own nature, each entire in itself, each a willing participle in the great prayer of praise singing the world back to life.
- Martín Prechtel
Excerpted from the first chapter in The Smell of Rain on Dust:
Grief and Praise