“Poi si torno all’ eterna fontana.”
by Gary M. Votour, MHCA
“We’re like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in the world is not the failure of God’s love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial, is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet.” – C.S. Lewis
In a little over a week, I will mark the six year point since Lyn died. I have found much healing from the pain of that event, yet deep inside there is a loneliness that dwells in the heart she once shared. Perhaps it was the forced sharing of her death I endured, or maybe it was the feeling that God had abandoned us, that has left this space. Sometimes it feels as if the “blows of his chisel” have taken more than He intended away from this “block of stone”.
Other times I can glimpse the perfection being created by His hand, and I am anxious to achieve it above all else. Faith is needed in both extreme states to find patience that a greater force than myself is at work within me, and being an imperfect human my faith fails to sustain me as much as I would like it to. At times I must simply tell myself, “I now control my grief, my grief does not control me”.
Part of that control comes from acceptance of the fact that in order to have greater control of my grief, I must allow myself to experience it.
Control of my grief comes in part from experience. It comes from acceptance, at times giving grief and the sadness it brings my permission to wash over me in waves, but control does not come from continual denial. When I do allow it to, each wave gets smaller and easier to survive without feeling like I am drowning. Of late I can swim out to meet that wave alone, buoyantly meeting that grief held afloat by my faith that He will not let me drown. As C.S. Lewis has said, grief is “like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” The search for that new landscape continues, even when I am lost in the winding valley.
In his book, A Grief Observed, Lewis ends with a Latin quote from Dante. “Poi si torno all’ eterna fontana.” Dante is speaking of Beatrice, when, in one of the final cantos of the Paradiso, she finally and forever turns away from the poet, whom she has guided to heaven, toward the glory of God. It is Lewis’ literary way of confessing his faith in the fact that there, in the presence of God, his wife, whose departure in death has been such a desolation to him, is now lost in the rapture of God.
In nine days, I will mark the day and time of my loss, but I will try and celebrate her joy at being with God free from mortal pain and suffering. I can only try, and let the chisel fall where it may.