I had been happily working on a light-hearted blog while waiting for a flight out of LAX early Friday morning. My husband and I were excitedly joining both family and friends on the East coast to attend a concert my son had put together to showcase his musical talents. This was one of those golden moments in life that holds the promise of tremendous joy and love; something happy to remember for the rest of your life — a blessing — the gift that keeps on giving. My heart was wide open, keenly aware of the abundance of blessings that surrounded not only me but also those I love and cherish.
And then a text on my phone: the news of Japan’s devastation; a request for prayer from a friend. Within seconds my expansive heart retracted, growing unbearably heavy, and that guarantee of joy-filled moments slipped away from me and became a deeply dark, foreboding feeling in my soul. The light from my blessings became shadowed.
Nature can be that way. Life can be that way. A killing field of sorts. Unforeseen, unannounced and certainly, unwelcome. Had I not experienced loss during the Northridge earthquake? How many times had I experienced the unexpected loss of a loved one in my life? How may times has my body been made vulnerable by disease? Too many to recount. Too painful to remember.
Yet, just 24 hours earlier, blessings in Japan were everywhere to be found. In the love of family and friends, on the faces of children, in the songs of birds, in the beauty of nature, in the rhythm of daily life that awoke with the sunrise, and slept under the canopy of night. Had the blessings of Japan been devoured by that mountainous wall of water that consumed so much in its path? Certainly, a quake of that magnitude, a tsunami of such devastating power is not a blessing. I am thousands of miles away, and I can’t deny the unbearable sorrow of such loss and destruction. The quake and tsunami in Sendai not only altered Japan physically, it literally changed the world physically — shifting the earth’s axis four inches.
And on an intensely personal level, Japan’s collective cry of pain, shifted my feelings of joy to an overwhelming sense of sadness. In the blink of an eye, my guaranteed blessings were eclipsed by Sendai’s demolition, and I truly grieved for that nation. Every one of us experiences suffering; some suffer more than others, some more brutally, some more subtly. The way in which we suffer may change from person to person, but the fact of the suffering is part of what connects us to one another.
I read somewhere that, ‘grief is the natural and healing companion of loss.’ If we allow ourselves to experience and surrender to grief we can eventually move through it and shift in powerful ways. And there for me is the ray of light, called a blessing. And every time we recognize a blessing, it increases our ability to receive it. This is where G_d exists for me. This is the place of momentous spiritual healing; this is the seed of transformation.
When our world grows dark and foreboding, and personal loss is beyond imagination, we have to remain open in our hearts. As I watch the abundance of aid pour into Japan, I am reminded that we are all Divinely connected, if we but open our hearts and accept the love and care we give to and receive from one another.
Please take a moment — now — and pray for the people of Japan.
And finally, give thanks for your life. Be grateful for everything you have and for all that you have become; for it is through gratefulness, we open the door to joy.