Sunday, July 13, 2014

Make room for sadness

Sadness is powerful. It softens us when life is tough. It keeps us open when we’d rather shut down. Sadness is not the same as depression—not even close. When you're depressed you don't feel much of anything; when you're sad, you feel everything. 

A tinge of joy runs right through the heart of sadness. Chögyam Trungpa called this feeling sad-joy—the two being inextricable, a mixed blessing that makes us weep when we hear beautiful music or remember a lost love and smile.

Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5

We can’t script sad-joy. We can only pause, slow down, and notice when it arises, then not rush away from what touches us. Sometimes it’s scary to open ourselves to sadness, but without it, our joy remains confined to us. With it, the heart breaks just enough for joy to spill out as kindness, as caring. 

May we be brave enough to let our hearts be softened by sadness.
Favorite tree: felled by tornado, 2012

Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride 
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.