Ache and Delight

The week before last was the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death and I shared here before that I have been feeling called to walk willingly into some dark places.   It turns out that the anniversary was also the day I had to end a friendship.  Friendship to me has always been sacramental and so not something I treat lightly. This friendship had actually been over for some time, but it took until now for us to realize that we each still have old wounds that have never been healed, despite our previous efforts.  It feels good to have some closure, but it was a very painful day that calls me to reflect on my own patterns that helped contribute to this undoing. 

During that week I also had a dream in which I was being introduced to Richard Rohr.  I shared the dream in spiritual direction and was encouraged to find out what Rohr might have to offer to my journey at this time.  Part of my work in Jungian analysis is integrating a healthy masculinity into my spirituality and so I found some of Rohr’s articles about his extensive work with male spirituality and initiation.  One article in particular really spoke to me — in it he writes of the masculine as being rooted in the “sacred no” and the feminine with the “sacred yes.” 

Rohr writes: “By the sacred yes or sacred no I mean that affirmation or negation that comes from a deep place of wisdom and courage, even if it creates conflict or disagreement. The sacred yes is not willful or egocentric, but rather is willing and surrendered. The sacred no is not rebellion or refusal, but always the necessary protecting of boundaries.”

This simple distinction of the sacred yes and sacred no that each come from the place of “deep wisdom and courage” has brought me a tremendous gift of clarity.  I realized in this friendship I had to create clear boundaries for myself and that was the gift of the sacred no.  At the same time I also had to welcome in the grief that accompanies this loss and also inevitably rises around the anniversary of my mother’s death. This was the gift of the sacred yes — making space within myself for sorrow.

While the previous week was filled with ache, this past week has been filled with delight.  One friend’s 50th birthday party (about which I hope to write more later), another’s invitation to hear some classical music, and another friend’s visit to see me at the hermitage.  It was a week filled with such delight and grace, in which I was reminded again and again how I am blessed with many wise and wonderful women in my life who I count as soul friends. I found my heart saying an enthusiastic yes again and again.

The journey for me is truly about making space within myself to hold the tensions of ache and delight, of lament and praise, of yes and no.  It is a slippery space, not always easy to maintain when I often want life to be clear and straight-forward, or when I want more answers than questions, or when I want to feel grounded in the center rather than dwelling on the edges of things.  But really, this world filled with mystery and questions, invites our wonder and longing, our sorrow and our joy.

To what are you being invited to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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