Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Sorrow’s Apprentice

I recently wrote about grieving unmet needs. This has led me to a deeper exploration of grief and sorrow. Someone suggested that I spend some time with grief as my teacher, comparing it to my relationship with my martial arts teachers. Intriguing….

So I find myself a novice once again (sort of a grief grasshopper for those who remember the old Kung Fu TV series), embracing beginner’s mind. Not because I haven’t experienced all kinds of loss in my life, but because I never allowed myself to grieve.

There are all sorts of reasons for that, both personal and cultural, but now the door is open, calling me into the darkness of sorrow. And I am ready to step through. As a friend is fond of saying, let’s see what happens.

I have already found that I am not alone. Joy walks with me, a loving guide into her twin’s domain. Some might think that joy is the opposite of sorrow, but I learned long ago that joy and sorrow dance together. The opposite of both is fear.

In the five element qigong system, courage resides in the lungs, as does sadness. I breathe in, filling my lungs with courage as sadness wells up to be released with the exhale. Breathe in, breathe out. I hear my martial arts teacher drawing out the word, “Agaaaaiiinnn”!

And grief whispers in my soul, “I will carry you. I will carry you.”

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  ~Psalm 30:5

14 thoughts on “Sorrow’s Apprentice”

  1. "Some might think that joy is the opposite of sorrow, but I learned long ago that joy and sorrow dance together. The opposite of both is fear."
    Fear of embracing, fear of letting go, ultimately, the fear of losing control. God is within us, a constant joy and peace. Yes, we will sorrow and mourn at many junctures in our lives, but that ultimate, pervasive joy, once accepted, will see us through.
    It has been, for me, Galen, a concern that my mother, when my father died in 2014, has yet to weep over her tremendous loss. I've surmised that it's her perceived need to be in control that prevents her from knowing both sorrow and joy. I pray that she might realize that she can have both.
    Blessings, my friend!

  2. I understand and share your mother's reluctance. It is hard to let go and trust that there is a far shore beyond the sea of pain. Game of Thrones warns that winter is coming, but Bambi's mother assured him that winter would not last forever. (Bet no one ever put those two stories together!) Thanks for commenting, Martha.

  3. Thank you for these words. I've always believed that experiencing sorrow allows us to experience joy. It's all emotion. "The greatest level of joy is measured by how deep your sorrow can go."And I'm so glad to hear that courage resides in the lungs, not just sadness. This has often given me encouragement – I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." – Lindberg.

  4. That's a great point, Mona, about suffering. As a Buddhist teacher says, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Suffering happens when we struggle with reality, when we want things to be other than they are. I wrote about the Taoist concept of ziran in the last post — ziran means what is as it is. When we deny ziran or struggle with it, we suffer. To me, that is different than sadness and grief. But I understand the meaning of the quote and agree with it. Also a bit funny about the lack of wisdom from suffering alone. So true. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I do love that scripture from the Psalms. Wow, I have studied the process of grief a lot through the years. At one point, I thought of writing a book on it. I was a hospice hurse for 7 years and learned a lot about grief. At one point, I found that I was’t taking care of my own grief and it caused some physical things. I would lose patients that I love dearly and then I didn’t know how to grieve over the loss in my own life.
    I finally learned how to do that more effectively. I have taught grief classes through the years. It is good to go through that door and take care of the grieving process.
    We of course, don’t just grieve over death, we grieve over many circumstances that we go through. The steps of grief are real and need to be taken and worked through for sure.
    Just a side note, I did a blog post on our Prophet meeting the Pope at the Vatican in Rome. Our Prophet and all the Apostles are in Rome for a temple dedication. This is the first time in 200 years that all the Apostles have been out of the United States at the same time. It is a very historic moment for our faith. There is a wonderful video that I posted that will explain our temples more than it has been before. If you get a change pop over and view it. I thought you might be interested since you love to learn about different things.
    Sending loving thoughts, prayer, and hugs your way!

  6. Wow, LeAnn, I am always learning more about you. I knew you were a hospice nurse, but I didn't know about your grief classes. Thank you for sharing your own experience with grieving. Isn't it true that we can often help someone else with something that we find challenging for ourselves?

    I went to your blog and watched the video about the temple. Thank you for sharing it. I learned a lot. As always, thank you for commenting.

  7. "I learned long ago that joy and sorrow dance together. The opposite of both is fear."

    Interesting post Galen. 'Joy and sorrow dance together' I never pondered that before. If these are the opposite of fear then Love must be somehow linked with Joy and sorrow. I get it… these are heart emotions . Fear originates in thought, not from the heart. When I read your post, (three times), I found myself searching my heart to understand if I failed to grieve properly in the past. I am not sure,if its there its well hidden in my subconscious. Most crisis situations that I have experienced reach a point where I knew I didn't have the inner resources to deal with it. I had to surrender to it ..a good cry usually brought relief and closure. It was always after I reached the limit of my endurance to deal with it that I cried out for help from the powers that are greater then 'me'. I have had to release hidden bitterness and resentment before against people in my past and present life but not grief. Maybe I dealt with grief as it happened, is that possible in my case?

  8. Joy, sorrow, love, all open the heart and in that way, they are the opposite of fear, which closes the heart. A Course in Miracles says that the opposite of love is fear, but that in reality, love has no opposite–fear results from the illusion of separation.

    I don't doubt that grief can be experienced and released as it occurs, and perhaps that has been true for you. I'm reading a book now called "The Wild Edge of Sorrow" that talks about many different kinds of grief. Very interesting. I'm learning that living a joyful life fully means embracing all the facets of the heart, including sorrow. Thanks for commenting, Brian.

  9. '…fear, which closes the heart.' '..fear results from the illusion of separation.'

    So, we can conclude that the illusion of separation (fear) closes the heart. This illusion of separation is the root of fear based belief systems. I was led to believe most of my life that we are separated from God by inbred sin, and there was a large gulf between, who I am, and this distant deity. The common belief was that we needed an advocate to be at one with the distant father God and the Jesus figure fit the bill, paid the price in his own blood and became the bridge over the gulf. If separation is an illusion that is based on fear its no wonder believers in this system find it hard to open up their hearts and see all as 'one';fear keeps the heart closed.
    If we can get past this illusion of separation caused by fear we begin to see that the veil has been ripped wide open and we have freedom to enter into the realm of heaven found in the spiritual heart. I believe this was the original message of Jesus but somehow his teaching got morphed into a system of belief in separation and he was made into a sacrificial atonement offering to appease an angry God. Maybe its time for the world to rethink this belief in fear concepts of separation from the divine and allow their hearts to be open to the universal oneness behind all life.

  10. This reminds me of a quote I learned in my early twenties but never really understood the meaning of until much later in life.
    “Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.” From Tolstoy, with the suggestion that these mood states can be interchangeable by their contrast with oneanother. And that always there will be a 'spoiler' to joy or a postive feeling or outcome through sorrow.To be honest, these days, I trust neither! I go for the middle ground and see where it takes me.

  11. Buddhism advocates the middle path. I wonder if there is a way to embrace the fullness of both sorrow and joy without being buffeted back and forth between them. Still working on that!

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