Every now and then life has a way of reminding you that it is to be lived, celebrated, and fully embraced. Most of us are ready to claim the joyous events but cringe at the pain that is occasionally part of the reality of life. We have rituals, expectations and experiences to enjoy the welcomed events in our lives but most of us wobble through the unwelcomed events like loss, transition, and change. Life-changing emotional pain produces a suffering that is difficult to explain but you know when it arrives. Several weeks after announcing the online launch of The Withered Herb, life dealt me an incredible loss and with little to no experience in dealing with the pain of bereavement, I was unable to think clearly. Filled with nervous energy fueled by grief I went to my half-frozen garden and clippers in hand, I continued the fall clean-up.
The mighty sunflowers now blackened by frost were drooping their once glorious flower discs. The similarity was uncanny; that was me. Emotionally exhausted, my soul darkened and my head drooping in sadness. Clipping the leaves and flowers was easy but the stalks were hard and resistant to my cutting efforts. My clippers were not strong enough to cut them down.
Lesson #1: It will take something stronger to cut me down to nothingness.
The raspberry bushes had a rough year, producing their fall bounty very late and after picking just a few baskets of fresh berries, a hard frost ruined the remaining unripe berries for consumption. But there they were – damaged this year but still intact, clinging to the canes that supported and nourished them throughout their life’s season.
Lesson #2: Recognize, accept and celebrate the support I have in my in life.
Most of my beloved herbs had been cut for drying and pruned for winter’s rest. I keep a small raised bed of oregano, chives, marjoram and a variety of thymes near my kitchen patio door for access during the snowy and cold winters of my region. Covered with a recycled shower door and a protective layer of snow, the herbs manage to stay green through most of winter. But there is no protective layer of snow yet and the clear but icy cold weather has been here for a while so the herbs are showing the shock of such distress: withering and darkening, perhaps symbolically licking their wounds, and retreating to a place of rest, building up strength for the next growing season.
Lesson #3: Embracing, nursing and resting within the reality of grief are important elements of living and generating new growth.
I have found much solace in the natural world and continue to learn important lessons from its cycles and realities. Returning to my life’s routines, I embrace all that life has to offer.