I just began reading Becky Aikman’s book entitled, Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives. You can learn a little more about the premise of the book by watching the author.
Looking back when I was a young widow myself, I wish I could have had a group like this, navigating this thing called grief with other young women. As I begin to read the book one of the first things to strike me is the night the group gathers at an art museum.
Katie, the guide of their tour at the Metropolitan Museum, takes them to an area with a collection of drawings and paintings and watercolors depicting lotus blossoms in all moments of their lives. “Some bowed gracefully. Some stretched forth toward the sun on tender stems. Withered ones dropped their seeds.”
Katie goes on to say that, “The idea for the artist was that no one of these was the lotus blossom. It’s necessary to see the various facets of the life cycle to understand the flower itself.”
“Lotus blossoms close their petals at night and reopen in the morning – the ideas of perpetual resurgence and renewal, or reinventing themselves. And they can surge forth and be beautiful and pristine in a muddy, difficult environment.”
One of the women in the group doesn’t know anything about lotus blossoms when her husband gives her a picture of one he has taken on a trip, six months before he dies. “She asked him why, of all the glorious sights in the wild, he had chosen this image of a lotus, rooted in an inky swamp, for her.” He said, “It is because a lotus blossom will grow and perfume and flower, even in the muck.”
Twenty-four years ago after the sudden death of my husband, I get out of bed only because my young son needs to dress, eat and be held. Muck is as thick as quicksand and grief sucks me down so low, I see no possibility of rising up.
My greatest joy comes from knowing I have survived another hour, another day. I plod heavily through my days with the muck hardening around my ankles, holding me captive.
Anyone in shock has protective blinders on, so I see only what needs my immediate attention, taking in bits of this overwhelming story. Years later, the gift of time reveals its truth – that even the muck is a gift.
The roots are below the muck, drawing in the nutrients that sustain the lotus flower. My roots are nourished by the support and love of my family and friends, and the faith that is the basis of my existence.
Although I find it difficult to stretch toward the sun, the SON is there even when I don’t feel Him. There are expressions of love that carry me along and the prayers of the faithful whose strength surround me.
Like the lotus blossom that withers and drops its seed, my tears fall and my old self withers. I close up to the pain this world has shown me and try to tuck myself away into a protective cocoon.
Little do I know, that like the lotus, my life cycle continues even in this closed up condition. Some days my energy surges briefly and I take a full breath. I experience new things however difficult and I begin the long arduous journey to reopen myself to life.
Muck is as thick as quicksand and grief sucks me down so low, there is no possibility of rising up. And yet, I do rise up. Despite the muddy, difficult environment of grief, I continue to live, rising up and surging forth – again able to share my perfume with the world.