It’s been four months since I learned my marriage would be ending. I look back on all the initial steps through each phase of the grief process. I know that grief is not ‘one and done’ that when we lose something or someone of importance, we work through that for a long time. While you go through those phases multiple times over the years, each time you revisit you’re at a different place, you experience that loss from a different perspective.
Last Tuesday on my fifty minute drive to Sanford to visit Mama, I phoned my friend, Donna. When my husband and I were in that initial period of dealing with our family change, I knew I couldn’t talk with her about anything; I’d have to use texts or email. She’s known me since first grade and I can’t pull things over on her. She would hear a change in my voice and know that something was wrong. After she received the news that I could only bear to send to my close friends through email, we met for lunch at the Tramway Diner and talked for several hours. It had been five weeks since that conversation.
Our call lasted through the entire drive to Sanford. When we were close to ending the conversation, Donna said, “I hear the hope in your voice now.” Her response is a barometer of ‘how I’m doing.’
I told Donna that I’m getting back to promoting my memoir and that next week I’ll have my first speaking engagement since my Book Launch. As I’ve prepared for that event with the Chapel Hill Rotary Club, one of the portions I’ve chosen to read reminds me of this season of my life.
In Chapter 7 of He Heard My Voice, I traveled to the San Juan Islands in Washington State. One of the things I’d looked forward to on that solo journey was a hike up Mt. Constitution. I’d never hiked a mountain—with a group, much less, alone. I’d envisioned a wide path with many hikers. But what I’d expected was far from what I found. I arrived to an empty bin of maps, no park staff, no hikers in site; I had to step onto the trail totally alone.
There was no way but forward if I was to reach my goal. At first I was hesitant, caught by the surprise of how things were. But then I took those awkward steps, watching for roots, careful not to trip and sprain my ankle when I was 2K miles from home. After I settled into the walk, I found myself learning from the journey. Here’s what I wrote on page 151:
I was amazed that about the time you thought you knew what kind of forest you were in it changed, the path I followed the same but the scenery around me different. You’d think that to climb a mountain you’d just circle around the same type of vegetation. That’s how it appeared from a distance. But the trip up Mt. Constitution was more dynamic than that, impacted by the direction and wind currents, the sights along the way changing while my feet faithfully followed the path before me.
Now, I see my current journey in light of that hike. While I keep going around the circuit of the phases of grief, each time I go round, I’m at a different place. I’m spiraling upward instead of walking in a circle. While I’m alone, I do receive support from fellow hikers on this journey of life who make my walk easier, who provide companionship for sections of the trail. As I keep going along the path, I can occasionally see sunlight through openings in the dark forest. Eventually, I will arrive at the summit and will be able to stand on the overlook tower, like I did at Mt. Constitution, gazing out into the vista of the land I’ve come to, marveling at how God has carried me up that steep mountain.
On my return trip from visiting my mother last Tuesday, I heard a podcast of The Thriving Christian Artist with an interview of a Scottish artist, Linette Penney-Gainham. I listened to her lovely accent, telling how self-doubt and depression had interfered with her work. At the end of the episode, she prayed for the listeners and asked God, “Bring hope again like a ray of sunshine going through the window into a darkened room.”
Rays of Hope– on a hike eleven years ago and in the prayer of a Scottish woman, peaking through the darkness of forest and dark days to bring light to the soul.
How about You?
In what areas of your life do you need Rays of Hope?
Who are the fellow travelers who may offer you assistance? How could you reach out for their helping hands?
My Memoir is available in Paperback and Ebook