Drawing to Hallows

As I go about my days in the Midwest, I notice the fields becoming barren, the frost collecting on roof tops each morning, and the naked branches of trees that have shed all their leaves. The world reminds me of loss and grief. I wonder, what does it mean to hold loss and hope? What does it mean to be a being that harbors both profound sadness and unexpected moments of joy? How do we acknowledge the barren fields in our life and how do we keep warm through the winters while anticipating the spring?

I don’t think there’s an answer to these questions, at least not one that we can put into words. This is part of the mystery of being human: We can hold all of this weight and levity at the same time. The seeming opposites of grief and celebration actually compliment each other, rather than cancelling each other. Our hearts are the meeting grounds of mourning yesterday and expecting tomorrow.

I have come to appreciate grief, loss, and hope in the tears and laughter, smiles and wails, hugs and silent moments that bring us closer to others and closer to ourselves. I have found the sacred in those acts that inspire relationship, those sacred tears and chuckles, the sacred screaming and silence. And I wonder, how is that who we grieve is present in those sacred moments?

Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

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