This picture was taken five days ago on the first anniversary of Grandpa Wilbert’s death. It was the ninth death in my life from October 2017-December 2018. Grandpa’s death embodied the reality of 2018 as a year of loss and grief. So it seemed only appropriate that 2019 would be a year of healing thus heal was birthed as my 2019 one word. And this picture reminds me that 2019 was indeed a year of healing. It shows joy on my face and in my heart and is a beautiful reminder that in time, healing comes about in our lives, but not always as we expect.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, healing is defined as “to make sound and whole;” “to make well again;” “to restore to health;” or “to patch up or correct.” This year was indeed a year of healing; healing from the various forms of loss and grief.
Healing comes in various shapes and sizes. It comes in ways we never imagined. Healing is more than being healed physically. It can be moving past the wounds and realizing one’s own strength in the midst of life’s loss and grief; obstacles and challenges.
For me, healing came in simple ways. It came in my sweet kitty Luna and in her new brother Neville. Healing came in putting words on a page and lifting them up to God like incense rising. Healing came in seeing resurrection appear in the midst of loss. Healing came in you, my dear friends and family; God’s living breathing kintsugi.
Healing came in hard ways too. There is a special place; Shepherd’s Canyon I had never heard of before this year started. And little did I know the healing that this place would bring about in my life. (Learn more here: https://www.shepherdscanyonretreat.org)
I attended Shepherd’s Canyon in Arizona in early summer. I will be honest I did not want to go at all. Everything in me fought this request and invitation to attend yet I went trusting God. It was easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my 41 years on this Earth. But now six months later, I can evidently see the ways that retreat; that place and my newfound friendships healed my aching, hurting heart. They showed me again and again my own strength! I also came away with gifts that continue to bless me each and every day.
A few weeks later, I sat in a holy circle around friends as they prayed with and over me. Tears streaming down my face as God continued to wash some of the pain of the loss and grief from the last year away. Another simple gesture as a friend gifted me the hat he wore during his days of chemo therapy. Once again, holy tears that started the trickle of healing in my life and soul.
In addition, healing has come in understanding who I am as a beloved child of God. I understand how and why I operate the ways I do. I am a peacekeeper. I will do anything to keep the peace. (I mislabeled myself as an Enneagram 2 all these years but the more I read I identify more as a nine!). Understanding my makeup helps me move and breathe better in this world. I am fully living as who God created me to be; a healthier version of me.
I’m reminded of this quote by Gwen Flowers: “I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.”
With new eyes, I see that health came in words and deep conversations. Health came in knowing that sometimes it’s ok to walk away. Health came in holy tears releasing the pain of so many losses. Health came in holy conversations around numerous cups of tea or coffee. Health came in kitty cuddles from sweet Luna and Nevy. Health came in music that spoke to my soul like Lauren Daigle’s You Say and Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road. “Sometimes we have to bury dreams, leave them deep in the Earth behind us.“ Health came in knowing I would never be alone. And health will continue to come.
I am leaving 2019 behind stronger than I imagined and dare I say healed in a lot of ways. I know because I have been able to catch my breath again. I have found some of the joy that seemed to have been lost. I’m proud of the healing work I’ve done to be the best version of who God created me to be! I am at peace; a peace that only God can provide! Healing has indeed happened this year. I pray that from healing, transformation will come!
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”–Romans 8:38-39