Thursday, April 9, 2020

Faith and falling free

Those midnight days. As if there is a hole in the roof of our collective church, and the rain is falling down, down through the beams, drops falling free.

And yet, there is Beauty ever-present. Unrepentant. Partout. 

She can be garish in comparison, this thing called Spring. And yet how we need her.

We breathe, we "can't breathe", we check our breathing. Upon rising, or at every twinge or cough. Knowing that there are others who are asking elsewhere in great fear escalating. Silently, we say thank you.

It is like a litany, this gratitude. Beads on a rosary, for those of us who are relatively ok. Who do not have to call every hour to check on a loved one's status, who do not have to contend with a lost job, less food, bitter feuds or finances.

Or loss. That felted word, death. Not for me yet, not yet, so thank you.

I beg the tears to fall for release. It is part of the terrain of a too feeling heart and
yet they do not come. I am such in shock. A grieving for all and those who will never be again.

Joan Sutherland, a teacher of the Zen koan tradition recently wrote: "Grief is a form of love, how we go on loving in the absence of the beloved. It is the transformation of love through loss, and how we are initiated into a new world."

If this grief is like a chapel onto itself, stone upon stone and block by block, there must be a light somewhere in our beings, even when whispered as quietly as a prayer. Or so I believe. One gives birth to the other.

We are here, we remain, what will we be?

During the late afternoon's sweet golden hour, or the early morning (it is now 5:30 am), these are the questions that I ask myself. Blinking in the dark, or heart racing.

The response doesn't feel like Hope. Hope is calling something into being and it feels too soon for that yet.

No, but perhaps...I can have a spark of Faith. One not born from any religion. It feels like to refuse that feeling would be disrespectful to all who are fighting so hard in order to move through and beyond a reality that is brutal. Incomprehensible. We must stand by the side of those on the front lines. In a hospital or a home.

So I will hold that light gently. For myself, for my family and our broken but not fallen church of the world. Faith just is, it exists and that feels like freedom.

Despite my falling down (or sitting numbly still), that is an active choice that I can make so that it may grow and go where needed. It will.

I am grateful beyond words for all of the many, many messages, emails and comments on Instagram after my previous post. You are all such incredible people. This community is so strong. 

I believe in us. 

Sending Love,

PS. I am updating this post to include an article from the NY Times about our universal - and personal grieving during this time of the Corona virus. It is absolutely worth the read, most certainly if you catch yourself in a state of blame...wondering "Why do I feel this way? So much?"...This can help.


  1. Yes, spring! This morning I saw that the tiny green buds on the big bush in our yard have opened a tiny bit! And little beautiful flowers are up: purple, yellow, white. They do take me out of my worries and make me feel hope and faith. Here is another silver lining: more beautiful prose and pictures from Lost In Arles! Thank you for sharing your 5:30 am musings with us - they help, too.

  2. I have not commented before but wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful and beautiful posts. I am living here in the New York city area, feeling hopeful amid periods of panic. what else to say that has not been said already, but thank you.

  3. Yes. This. You express so well what we all need to hear. Faith does not require a religion. It exists in all of us. D'accord, I believe in us too. Bises

  4. This is beautiful, Heather! Sending you a hug and one of those supportive hand squeezes ready for us walking out into a different world. xxx

  5. Very beautiful. I hope you are safe and well.
    This is a moment of much grief, but as you say we need to embrace beauty when we find it. The only embracing we can do these days.

  6. Heather, I love your use of lighting in these photos. Gracefully falling on the objects, just so.
    Spiritual Illumination- In Faith, gracefully falling on us, just so.

  7. One morning, when I was in the throes of cancer treatments, I said to my husband, "Just imagine, all around us other people are living their normal lives." Despite what #45 might say and do, we are all in this together. And the one thing that brings me comfort is that the world continues to spin, natural cycles continue. My yoga teacher read one of my favorite poems at the end of class this morning: "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver.

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things."

    Stay well everyone.

    1. Dear Judith, Well, no surprise here at finding that the Mary Oliver quotation comes from you. I hope all's well with.
      david terry

    2. Thank you, David. All is well here, and I hope it is with you, too.

  8. Dear Heather,
    To continue with Mary Oliver poems? Presumably, you'll know this one (my favorite, which I illustrated a few years ago):

    The Uses of Sorrow

    "Someone I loved once gave me
    A box of darkness.
    It took me years to understand
    That this, too, was a gift."

    I can't think of a more appropriate poem for this Good Friday morning (except, obviously, Donne's "Riding Westward; Good Friday, 1613"......but, then, you already know that I am an unedifyingly and, I suppose, unimaginatively orthodox Anglo-Catholic.

    Looking at your photographs, I wish that I could send you several of my paintings from the Cistercians series. I'll email them to you.

    As fondly as ever, and with best wishes for you and your family
    David Terry

    P.S. wouldja-coudja send me, once again, the address to which I should mail my painting of that glorious day you had with dogs, on the sunny side of some hill in the Luberon? I still have the portrait, of course.

  9. Lovely thoughts and words Heather. I am trusting that things will get better for everyone soon.

  10. Recently I have started something new. Everyday I go into myself and stay still until I find my light. When I am ready I extend that light out to the world. It is my small act of believing. Of connecting.
    Some days the light is near by and some days I struggle.
    Thank you for posting Heather.
    Love and light to all

  11. Thank you for your words and your thoughts. In a very tough time, where it's easy to feel isolated, you are willing to reach out, and the words are beautiful. I could/should write more, but for now I just wanted to thank you for posting.


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