A crimson-gold collage of autumn leaves dances about my feet as I stride swiftly across the parking lot. The hour for my weekly meditation is calling, and I want time to settle in before it begins. Still, it’s impossible not to pause for a moment to admire the still-blooming cascade of purple flowers tumbling from a heavy vine along the pathway. My eyes veer toward a petite, elderly woman ensconced in an elegant winter coat. She waits in thoughtful silence at the base of the wide church steps. I notice that my stylish vintage coat, reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn days, is similar to hers. Our dark eyes meet each other’s, and I smile at our simple connection. I pause and gaze into the compelling warmth of her eyes once more before racing on. Turning the corner, I see the spire of the exquisite circular chapel reaching high into the chilly, blue sky. My feet patter up the short flight of steps, and I find myself outside the chapel’s broad, red doors. A sense of homecoming infuses me, for my soul knows it has found a resting place. I slow my mind and my breath; I am here.
A familiar circle of chairs and welcoming faces await me. A candle is burning, and its soft glow shines gently in the sunlit room. Smiling broadly, I move to take my place in one of the empty seats. As is my habit, I sit with the doors to my left and the garden-lined paths to my right. It is comforting to be here, to behold the angelic face of Ella, our leader, and the circle of kind souls who have become friends. The chapel is cold, and my treasured blanket of periwinkle blue quickly finds its place on my lap. As warmth drifts up from the radiant-heated floor, a few remove their shoes. I dare not follow suit, as my feet are snug and cozy within my tall, black boots. A warm-hearted friend offers an extra blanket she brought, and it soon covers the lap of my neighbor. Wrapping my delicate, pink scarf more tightly about my neck, I settle into my chair with a grateful sigh.
The airy confines of this exquisite chapel are precious to me. Sparkling windows of stained glass rise toward the heavens. Their vibrant stretches, a mosaic of nature’s richest jewel tones, offer an air of regal elegance. We are encompassed by light, vivid hues of shining glass, and an atmosphere of accepting connection. Those that join this circle bring a diversity of thoughts and beliefs, yet the kindred energy is palpable. Within this small, sacred space is a desire to commune, to understand, and to know loving peace. Here, one senses the pure intention to connect with something greater and more infinite. I feel safe in this space; I feel comfortable and protected.
Ella bows her head, and her blonde hair falls across her shoulders in a smooth wave. She looks up, and I notice a twinkle in the blue eyes that have become so dear to me. Listening to her gentle suggestion to the group, I place my hand upon my heart. Within moments, my other hand follows of its own accord, and my two palms rest lightly against my chest. I am instantly flooded with tranquility and a glow of peace. The flute of Ella’s sweet voice rises in song, and we chime in as her melody infuses the air. In the stillness, our voices blend and flow as we sing of the never-ending journey of knowing and sharing love. I can feel my heart beating its own chorus. My chest rises and falls with my breath and my voice. A whispery tingle rushes across my skin as the prayerful refrains enter the depths of my spirit. I can breathe and feel more fully in this divine and precious space. As our voices trail off, the chapel is blanketed in silence. I hear no more.
Eyes softly closed, my spirit seems to slip into eternity as my worldly thoughts fade. Heaven-sent hues of violet and golden white infuse me with their gentle touch. I breathe and wait in silent acceptance. A tapestry of deep lavenders and emerald greens unfurls before my inner being; ever-moving, the colors play and sway within me. An unexpected wave of grief rushes in with overwhelming strength. My hands, still resting upon my chest, heed the rapid beating of my heart and the jagged rhythm of my breath. As the upwelling of sadness mounts in my chest, my heart expands as if it will burst from the surge of emotion. For the longest of moments, I want to run. The rush of panic subsides as I sit with it and breathe. My inhalations and exhalations grow slower and deeper, and I am soothed by my chest’s gentle expansion and calming release. Warm tears begin to pour silently from my eyes, and I do not try to stop them. They follow the curve of my cheekbones and drip like raindrops from my jaw onto the waiting folds of my scarf. There is no halting this inexplicable flow of emotion; there is no need. My tears are the voice of my soul, its plaintive cry, and I want it to sing. I desperately want to feel its whispered words of loving wisdom. I need not understand them, and I feel no need to hold them. I just want them to be.
The tears flow, and my silent, watery communion continues until I cannot breathe. Roused from my reverie, I open my eyes slowly to the light and a circle of bowed faces. I sniffle quietly and wipe my eyes. To my right, a dear friend is stirred by my hesitant movements, and her beautiful eyes register sympathetic concern at the sight of my tear-stained face. She gently presses tissues into my hand and graciously resumes her own mediation. Despite the tissues, rivulets of warm tears glide down my face. One crystal teardrop falls to my velvety coat where it glistens, a shimmering orb of mystery. As my tears continue their silent aria, I give them accepting, humble space. My eyes close, and I follow a ribbon of pearly colors into darkness and otherworldly light.
Within my meditative world, I am wrapped without and within by silken streams of radiant color. I bathe in the unknown realms of my interior landscape and my connection to the expanse so far beyond me. In this space there is infinity, oneness, everythingness, and nothing at all. Here are wild tears and hot dryness. Here I encounter purest joy and shadowy despair, passionate emotion and dark desolation. As my breath slows and deepens, one word—love—rises within me again and again. The thought of love begins to soften the pain of my grief. I breathe into that singular word, love. I breathe love into that aching space in my soul. A silky ribbon of words intermingled with violet-toned colors begins to flow from my mind throughout my being. Within this luminous ribbon, a familiar voice whispers to me, “Life becomes love. Love becomes joy. Joy becomes tears. Love becomes loss. Loss becomes tears. Tears become song.” And, so, my soul must sing.
A chime’s resonant tone calls me back to the chapel. My eyes open slowly to a room awash with warm autumn sunlight. As my gaze wanders from face to face, I search for a glimpse of understanding. Still in the arms of my peculiar, soul-filled journey, I feel the pull between an inner and outer world. As I leave the embrace of my meditative realm, the piano of my mind begins to ripple with questions. It wants to know what I have seen and felt. It wants to understand my tears and heal them. It wants for me to find comfort and peace. It wants to make sense of the inner world it cannot hold and scrutinize. My lips curve into a wry smile as I think, “Understanding is not everything, but I am intrigued.” My soul is quiet and still; it does not ask to be examined.
It is our practice to join in reflective sharing as the meditation concludes. One by one, meaningful snippets are offered. My turn arrives, and I pause. I wonder if mere words will give sufficient life to my experience. I recount my mystical voyage in halting, contemplative phrases. As I speak, bits and pieces shift into place; the puzzle within me takes its own awkward, intricate shape. Others share, and the warmth in the room is fanned. I ponder the wealth of love and connection that exists within this chapel. Hot tears form at the corners of my eyes. My soul has felt its epiphany, its own measure of comprehension. Now—if just now in this very moment–I understand.
Sapphire-toned words spill from my mouth to the group’s ears. My heart beats eagerly as my thoughts become phrases. I tell them what my soul discovered, that I now understand why, at times, I cry hundred-year-old tears. I cry because I love. I cry because I feel so deeply. I cry because I am exquisitely sensitive to the touch of the world. I cry because I know both my joy and my pain. I cry because I have loved so well and lost so very much. In these past few years, I have lost my father and my treasured, best-friend mother. In that same space, I have lost two most precious friends to cancer—both too young to die. I have lost close family. I have lost treasured friends. I have lost precious lovers. I have lost more than my simple humanity can yet fathom. Yes, there is piercing trauma, and, yes, there is vast pain. Yet, I realize profoundly that all of these losses hurt me so fiercely only because I love so fully and boundlessly. If I were not capable of such wild and immensely beautiful love, I would not grieve with such cavernous tears. I feel so intensely because I love so passionately. I absorb the world as I move in it and through it. I feel the loss of a wounded hummingbird and injuries to any precious creature. I feel the anguish of a hurting parent and the fear of an anxious child. I feel the search of strangers’ probing eyes and the angst of a client’s confusion. Sometimes, at the end of a full and heart-swept day, I feel as though I’ve not had space to acknowledge a mere fraction of all that has touched me. There are moments when I reel from the depth of all that I feel, but the feelings—as intense as they may be—never capsize me. My feelings expand me, fuel me, and humble me. I feel because I am open to experiencing all that life has to offer. I feel because I open my soul to the world and the heavens. I feel because I love.
My patient, enduring soul knows that the choice is mine alone. I can choose to feel less, to numb myself to this immense gift of heartfelt, profound loving. Yet, I have no option. The untrue safety of a sterile, anesthetized life is but a prison. I could not bear to live behind the protective bars of a closed-off heart, soul, or mind. Each day, I choose to be filled with immense love, joy, delight, and curiosity. It is only natural, then, that this leaves me open to heartfelt loss, deep pain, and rivers of tears. And, so, with my eyes wide open, I make the choice to be filled with all of life’s riches—the pain and the joy. I want to feel all of life and embrace it deeply. And, surely, the choice is mine.
I desire to feel alive in every moment, to let wild love chime and resonate within me as a winged, clanging bell. I must love. I must feel. I must cry. And when I cry my tears of life, I allow my soul to know its own voice . . . and sing.