Category Archives: Grief

The dark night 

Today I am thinking about a friend walking through her own dark night of the soul.  I am thinking about how suffering marks us. It takes us deeper in.  

She  will not emerge the same. There is grief in that at times, and a sense of being “apart.” It can also be lonely. I often feel that acutely when I am in a social situation. There is a sense that I have spent long stretches of time cocooned with a Presemce. It can make it hard to “small talk.”

And there is beauty. Richard Rohr says suffering  can launch  you into the second half of life, early. Not in terms of chronological age, although some days it may feel like that. But where new tasks await and the old containers no longer serve. (Falling Upward). There is a clarity, a sense of vision, that influences even the smallest “yes and no” choices. 

There are some unknowns on my road ahead; far more questions than answers. I hold all of that uncertainty in my stomach. It feels tight, like someone gave it a quarter turn. I check my body for feelings, because I learned early on in my recovery process that my body tells the truth. Grief, sadness; that’s what sits in my stomach. I want desperately to claw for control. I slow my breathing, turn on the sparkly copper strung lights. 

And so I fold the clothes for a ten year old, halving and smoothing with Waldorf-like rhythm. Suffering opened this gift; I used to fold and listen to a podcast or talk on the phone. Double tasking is the American way, right?  Until you can’t. Usually not by choice. And when the ability comes again, I can choose. I can keep the rhythms slow, meditative. Feel the fabric, marvel at the way a ten year old slides through knees. 

Because this is the time. 

There is no other 

I have this moment. Today. 

The art of patience. 

Just for the record, I don’t have this. I was raised to figure it out, get things done, think it through, try harder. All of those well honed skills of my Baptist childhood are not serving me right now.

Healing  takes time. There are lovely supportive modalities, acupuncture and craniosacral, oils and chiropractic and reiki.  I do them, gratitude brimming for gifted practitioners. They help to support the body’s natural healing process; but nothing can rush it.

Today was a day of trying to figure it out. And after all my best efforts, it didn’t do it. If I could have the ability to do something by the sheer force of my will, I would be doing many things. It doesn’t work. 

Tonight it was a concert for the children. My brain was glitching, as my middle schooler says. More descriptive than “post concussive syndrome”. A little loss perhaps, in the grand scheme of things; but a little loss in a long string of losses.

And so, for tonight, I’m giving my brain permission to rest. Healing brains like rest; not the sleeping kind, but the kind that pulls down the stimulation and external noise and light. 

The problem is, much of the noise comes from inside me.  So for tonight, I ask for quiet to seep into my very cells. 

  Psalm 130

I pray to God… My life a prayer… And wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord. Waiting and watching til morning. Waiting and watching til morning.  


Pregnant with story

I am a keeper of story…her-story. Today I have bathed in words; hard words. Pulled my shirt off, made me get into bed, cut, no food, so tired, so thirsty, told I had to, pulled my legs open, no choices, wouldn’t listen to my no. 

What horror is being described here? Let your mind connect the dots, your imagination fill in the blank. 

It sounds like sexual violence. One in three children in America. It must stop! When do we say “no more”? 

I fight for this. 

But these words frame stories of obstetric violence. “Birth rape”, some call it. One in three women in America; cut. Countless more stripped of their dignity. Her story packed in a box and tied with a bow, with a tag that reads “at least you have a healthy baby”. Maybe. This hospital bag may take a lifetime to unpack. 

I say “no more”!

As a midwife, I fight for this. 

And it starts by daring to listen…to her-story. 

Lenten writings: by name

I have called you by name, you are mine… (Is. 43;1)

Maybe this is all we know of heaven; to be called by name. 

There is the name each of us was given, at birth. As a midwife, I see people choose names for many reasons:  a favorite aunt, a family tradition, the season, circumstance, the meaning. Often in today’s culture of peeking in at a baby’s private parts, the name is chosen midway through the pregnancy. 

The last book of Scripture says:

I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

I was named “Joanna”, Ιωαννα, Grace. As my father’s sermon illustration explained, after 18 years of waiting for a child it was sheer grace. 

I found that hard to hold as I wrestled as a grown up with the reality of my story. How could a child be longed for and then so violated? And so I asked God about it, and the answer came. Your dad named you for his own reasons. I have named you “grace”. You are living into that name. 

Mary the Magdalene came, in tomorrow’s Lenten Easter story. She showed up at the cross too, choosing to stay in the pain. She had known agony; 7 demons Jesus cast out of her. And so she comes, drawn by love, to finish the embalming process cut short by the Sabbath. And He is gone. Her hope, gone. 

She asks the gardener where the body of her Lord is? Does he know where they have taken Him? And He answers with one word, Mary. 

And it is enough. More than enough. Her name, spoken by the One who knows her story. 

Joanna came too, to the tomb early in the morning, that first day of the week. Nothing more is said. Perhaps He spoke her name, too. 

Joanna. Grace.