In May, I graduate with my Doctor of Ministry Degree. It was an exciting day, as my family and I gathered in the National Cathedral with my colleagues I had worked with over the last three years. It was a day of joy.
And yet, it was also a day of grief. This was the first graduation I was at without my Pap, who meant the world to me. My work is dedicated to him. I wore a pin in his honor. But he didn't get to be there with his smile and cheers.
In June, I started a certificate program at Fordham for the Supervision of Spiritual Directors. It was awesome to receive that acceptance letter.
And yet, it was the first acceptance, I wasn't able to share with him.
The journey through grief is long, dear friends. Sometimes the "firsts" are easy to recognize - first holiday, first birthday, first anniversary. Others are a lot hard to recognize, or even put words around, but they are just as real.
This is why we cannot journey through grief alone. The road is too long and too unperdictable. We need companions to just sit with us, cry with us, and help us to put words to our treasured memories.
Let us hold hands with one another along this terrian.
I am a big fan of Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers was a remarkable man who put himself out there to do something innovative, without compromising his vision, and it impacted my generation and beyond. Some of Mister Rogers's statements have been so impactful that they have lived beyond his death including, perhaps one of his most famous, "Look for the helpers."
Originally this quote was meant to comfort children who were seeing traumatic events. They were encouraged to look for the people who were helping, because they were always present, bringing grounding to the chaos.
My week was by no means traumatic, but it was chaotic, with a lot of different balls in the air and far too many late nights. Yet, as I was reflecting back on the week, it was this quote from Mister Rogers that came to mind.
But for me, the "helpers" were not ones that would be traditionally identified. They were an awesome spiritual director. Colleagues who go above and beyond. A coach who is helping me do a hard thing. But my helpers were vital to my week.
I wonder who the helpers were in your week and how you were a helper to others? How do we add value, beyond measure, to one another's lives?
A recent conversation I had with a dear friend has been on my mind, of which the topic was death. Now it may seem odd for two women in their mid-30s to have an in-depth conversation on this topic - yet it's part of what we both see each day in our vocations.
So in honor of that conversation with my friend and what's on my mind - let's talk about death.
Or moving away from this site.
Many of us don't like to think about death and so we don't talk about it. Yet, death can often lead to new life. The death of one opportunity may lead to a better one you never envisioned. Death in winter of flowers, trees, and greenery leads to new blooms in the fall.
Maybe we need to talk more about death. Not just our physical deaths (spoiler - not talking about does not mean that it will never take place), but also what may a small death in our life that leads to new life in abundance.
Letting go is a funny thing. Sometimes we make the choice to let go - of control, of expectations, of that which does not make our soul sing. Other times it is thrust upon us. Sometimes we let go for a short period of time or a season and at other times it is longer.
Letting go, in whatever manner and timeframe it comes, is an invitation. An invitation to claim the fact that we are a blessing simply because we exist in this world, not because of what we do or what we can produce. Letting go asks us to see ourselves as the Divine sees us. And that can be a gift, even if it is difficult for us to receive.
What are you being invited to let go of at this time and how is Holy inviting you to see yourself because of letting go?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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