Sacred Space: For All the Seekers
We’re all seeking.
Some of us for enjoyment: the next awesome show on Netflix.
Some of us for a partner.
For a cure.
For a family.
For a baby.
For relief, or release.
It’s better than Waiting, I suppose. Waiting is passive. Dr. Seuss calls it “a most useless place: The Waiting Place.”
Seeking feels more active, more promising. More in control. (But with no guarantee of “boom bands.”)
For me, Seeking can end up being synonymous with restlessness. An itchy, irritable, why am I not THERE yet? It is hard, hard, hard to be in the middle. Just be-ing. Especially when the be-ing is in the dark. For a long time.
* * *
To be clear, this is not about me. Or rather, it is about my wanting to help the people around me. To heal things. To fix. To make better. Because my life mantra (or at least one of them) is from George Eliot’s Middlemarch:
“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each another?”
Not one of us can heal another’s internal suffering. The best we can do is to witness and to love, and I feel sometimes that it is inadequate, imperfect, blundery. And it reminds me of precisely how powerless we all are: both Seekers and Witnesses.
* * *
We became friends about six months ago with a couple pregnant with triplets–a really great couple, whom we knew would make great parents.
Their triplets arrived really early, at 27 weeks. They were relatively stable (as stable as preemies can be) in the NICU, and their ring of family and friends brought food, commented on their updates, sent waves of love and support to those three babies.
A few days ago, at 7 weeks old, one of the boys died.
To lose a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. To lose a child while you have to care for two other medically fragile newborns is unimaginable. I cannot even begin to figure out how best to love this couple as they grieve one baby and care for their living babies.
* * *
My Grandma turns 90 this May. Each of the past several times I’ve talked with her, she tells me, “Every day I pray that the Good Lord take me. I’m ready. This isn’t living.”
Stuck in a nursing home due to a combination of ailments, including congestive heart failure and recently, chronic nausea and pain from a herniated disc in her lower back, she is done. D-O-N-E. She watched her sisters languish in nursing homes, visited them weekly if not daily. She doesn’t want that. Nor do I.
I call. I listen to her breathless, weak voice. I answer her questions about how my job is, how my kids and husband are. I tell her I love her.
* * *
Maya told me once, when I was having a hard time, that she would “hold space” for me. What on earth does that mean?
It means that I hold a space open for you, she said. I don’t wish or pray for one thing or another for you. I just hold space that you are able to find the direction you need.
It means empathy. Exposing our hearts to pain and grief: the other person’s, and our own.
It means not Seeking, or Waiting. It looks like someone witnessing and loving another on their journey.
Can we be strong enough, vulnerable enough, to hold space for the seekers? For the suffering?
P.S. This is a beautiful post on holding space and how to do it. Cheers to hospice nurse Bridget for sharing it.