when aching is a companion

To ache: to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain; to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like; to feel eager, yearn, long.

The ache is a continuous pain – it comes fiercely at times, slowly at others, and then there are times when I feel like it’s gone. And then it comes back, re-awakening itself to me, begging for attention, to be seen and heard, and known.

I run away from the ache as fast as I can. I tell God I can’t talk to him right now, because being with him, in the quiet of my wandering and anxious mind, will remind me of the ache, and I’d prefer to outrun it, as fast as I can.

And I do run. I run fast.

 

There’s someone in my life who teaches me daily how to make space for the ache: he acknowledges it, exposes its depth and its pain, but refuses to cover it up, or to run away from it. It’s a gracious acceptance you could say, less angst and more peace.

I say gracious acceptance because there’s a very real act of grace that is at work in me when I accept the aching. I acknowledge that something is amiss from what it ideally could be, and yet keep moving in the imperfection, in the gaps of what should be and what is.

Rainer Rilke says “Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you?”

I am tempted daily to shut out of my life the unease and the ache, but if I do, what else am I shutting out? What lessons am I refusing to learn, what gifts am I refusing to receive? And what words, whispered quietly in the ache, am I not able to hear because I make noise to crowd out the sadness?

 

So I am learning to cry differently, held in the arms of this person who knows how to sit in the ache better than I. I am learning to cry not to rid myself of the angst, but to make peace with it. I hope that the tears are a pathway to hope, to trust in the good work that is active within me. And I’m trying to stop, to learn to listen and watch what the good work is teaching me.

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