A few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast on my daily beach walk. The podcast shared updates on the Ukraine invasion that were heart-wrenching to hear about. Tears began to stream down my face, and I felt overcome with sadness for what was happening in another part of the world, even at that very moment. The sadness cascaded down, blurring my vision as my feet crunched through the sand and pebbles and shells with each step.
As I walked a little farther, squinting through tears I noticed a figure stooped on the beach a ways up from me – so low as to almost be lying down. My curiosity drew me towards that scene as I tried to make out what was happening. I trudged in that direction, tears still streaming down my face as I grasped in my pockets for a stray tissue.
Then the stooped figure rose and marched off – it turned out to be a man wielding a rather expensive-looking camera. Now the scene made more sense. He was taking a picture down there. But of what?
I crunched through more pebbles, shells, and sand towards where he had been.
Ah. I saw it then.
It was a washed up log, with beautiful swirly contours.
But more than that.
On top of the log sat a perfect rock cairn.
Who made it? Was it the stooping man carrying the camera? Was it a teen looking for something to do late at night? Was it an anonymous artist who left their creation behind for others to enjoy?
I’ll never know.
But the simple beauty of that scene filled my eyes with a different kind of tears. The kind of tears that see both sorrow and beauty, sometimes at the exact same time. In that moment, I didn’t forget about the pain of what the people of Ukraine are enduring. But I saw the beauty, alongside it. Both are there.
I’m sure many of us have been feeling that vacillation between sadness and other emotions as we take in all kinds of awful news. It can be difficult to know whether it is ok for us to enjoy moments of beauty, or joy, or delight, when there is acute suffering going on in the world as well.
What I have learned about resilience is: it is vital for us to acknowledge that both are true. The sorrow is true. And the beauty is also true.
So going forward, I will try to hold the sorrows of wars throughout the world, and so many others stories that are heartbreaking but that need to be heard.
And I will also hold the beauty. In fact, I am obsessed these days with creating as much beauty as possible around me – planting seeds that will grow into gorgeous flowers, singing songs that touch the heart, having conversations that offer healing and hope, and gathering with community purely for fun and laughter.
As you hold the sorrow, may you also hold the beauty – because both are there, both are true, and both lead us towards being our best selves on this earth.
May and Beyond
- Celtic Psalms Northeast US Tour 1-17 July 2022 – After two years without any live concerts, we are delighted to finally be able to sing together in public again, and as we are also releasing our new album Celtic Psalms: May We Rise, we thought it was the right time to plan another tour. If you are anywhere between DC and Boston, please keep an eye out for our concert schedule, or if you have an idea for a venue, do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Celtic Psalms Facebook page will have the most up-to-date information on concerts as our schedule is confirmed.
- Upcoming Retreats
- Resilient Spirit Retreat 6-8 May 2022 – there are a few spaces left! This retreat offers space for reflection and sharing as we explore together what helps us build resilience in our daily lives – what lifts our spirits in difficult times? What brings us balance? What offers us hope? Through the spacious rhythm of retreat, we learn more about what gives us life, energy, and wellbeing, so that we can return to our full lives restored and renewed. We’d love to have you there.
- Next Silent Retreat: 14-16 October 2022 Please mark your calendars, consider flights, dream and scheme about how you might join us for this sacred time of shared silence at Corrymeela… and some much-needed stillness as well. Contact me at email@example.com if you’d like to be put on the waiting list.
- New Psalms for the Spirit Podcast Episodes In case you didn’t catch it, there was a special Holy Week episode featuring Munther Isaac, Palestinian theologian and Luther minister of the Christmas Church in Bethlehem. Soon I will be releasing another episode with Rebecca Dudley, International Humanitarian Law Advisor to New Zealand Red Cross. Make sure to subscribe to the “Psalms for the Spirit” podcast by searching for it on Apple or Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you don’t miss it!
- Bless My Feet Community – Subscribing to be a part of this online community means you receive a few extra emails per month with short reflections on what’s on my mind and prompts for your own reflection, and you also support me in my spirituality ministry. Thank you to those who have signed up for a small fee – I greatly appreciate it and it means a lot to me!
- Spiritual Direction – I’d love to walk alongside you on your journey. Find out more about what that might mean for you here
- Turas Pilgrimage in Ireland October 2023 – find out more here
Blessing for our Journey
May the God who is with us in the sorrow
be with us also in the beauty –
for both tether us to what is true,
and should not
Give us eyes to see,
as we take one step
and then another,
even through tears
and with blurred vision,
that alongside sorrow
there is beauty,
there is healing
and there is hope
for a better world.