Sorrow and grief arise this time of year as the leaves fall more readily and nights darken more quickly. Dominant culture invites frivolity and feasting, yet let us not forget time to contemplate the darkness within and without as well. It’s both, and.
Tree of Sorrow
This is a story of the tree of sorrow, as I remember it.
In the center of the village, stood a tree.
On this tree people hung their sorrows and regrets and challenges.
The people walked around this huge tree, and gazed at all of the sorrows and struggles. Circumambulating and contemplating.
Asked to select something from the tree, people invariably picked a struggle familiar to them, known to them, and something worth healing; their own lives.
Take home: own your story, change the ending, choose thriving over striving.
And from Mary Oliver,
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.
And finally, from Rumi,
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.