The element of fire connects us to the energy of our living hearts and to the sacred, as fire cannot be awakened without the element of air, the breath of life, and earth, the living bodies of others. When all these elements come together in the heat of longing to burn away all that has been lost and is asking to be released we are called to sing to them the song of praise that comes from the depth of our love that brought us into the sacred realm of grief.
Searching for joy, peace, acceptance, or gratitude in the midst of our grieving seems only to ensure that we will keep on circling back around to the very feelings we are trying to avoid. The call from the underworld is to let ourselves travel further into our sorrow, with wise and loving companions holding our backs to find the hidden fire deep within that will illuminate our hearts with the power to transform. That which destroys also creates.
Gratitude is what emerges naturally and of its own accord once we have been cracked open by the heat of suffering and surrendered to it. As we feel our way blindly through grief's dark passage, the eyes of our heart will slowly adjust and our other senses will begin to sharpen. Only once we have learned to see in the dark we will find the hidden gifts glinting in the shadows left there by those who walked this way before, waiting to be discovered by those willing to be guided. If we can sink into the darkness, gather these blessings, and trust in the ordinary wisdom of placing one foot in front of the other, soon enough the daylight will flash through on the other side leading us back to the full spectrum of life.
In this dark land a part of us will die and we will come back different. We will find ourselves like a fragile seed pushing up through the depths of the earth, unsure if we will ever make it. This is why the old ones tell us to seek water. Only water can help us soften enough to expand beyond what might otherwise encase and solidify us. Only water can reconcile us with our loss. If we are willing to surrender to the falling away of all we thought was ours to have, if we can allow these elements to work on us then in time we will grow and ripen and bear new fruit. This is how fire, air, earth, and water help us transform the bitter taste of our heartbreak and grief into medicine for the world, into gold to leave in the dark for others.
Photograph by Analia Luz, used with permission
from the 3-Day Residential Retreat
The Prayer of Life: Weaving Grief and Gratitude
Sweet Peace Farm, Sebastopol, CA
October 12-14, 2018