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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


A close friend of Claire shared this brief quote from Nouwen. Apparently it was one they shared with one another.
Vulnerable, Like a Bird

Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular. (From Bread for the Journey)
Perhaps that is the most difficult part of grief. I feel so vulnerable. Shaken. Fragile. Raw. But it sounds like Nouwen is counseling us to accept this -- possibly even embrace it as the most genuine place we can be. This is certainly, as the Celtic saying goes, a "thin place"...

The Celts believed that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
So I am strangely comforted here. And deeply sad at the same time -- I think my soul is sensing the tension of living in both worlds.

As these days "after Claire" unfold, I drag my feet. I don't want to move on. But I can't stand still either. Mourning is so complicated. Lauren Winner, whom I have quoted in some earlier posts, puts it this way, regarding the first month after death:
It is the edging back to worldly concerns and quotidian rhythms after the intense cocoon of shiva [the first week of mourning]. During this time, mourner may return to waiting tables or taking depositions or folding laundry or prowling the farmers' market. But she avoids large parties and celebrations and musical performances...
This will sound ridiculous, but the little song that run through my head as I just need to get going is the one Dory sang in Little Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." We all have to just put one foot in front of the other, right?!

Regardless of how each day goes, I am grateful for a fresh sense of God's presence in the midst of each one. I will admit that that is what the thin places afford us:
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13-14)

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