Who would ever think a post titled “Going on a Bear Hunt” would be about Joy and Sorrow?
There is a metaphor here. Let me explain.
In 2004 when my Beloved died, my Joyous Heart broke apart and I plunged into a Sea of Sorrow. Never before had I experienced the immense Joy of loving a partner and the immense Sorrow of losing my Beloved.
My Joyous Heart became a Sorrowful Heart.
I knew only Sorrow every day, every night, every month, every minute.
My art table became my therapy. Layers of paper expressed the layers of my Sorrow, my Love, my Wants, my Tears, my Anguish, my Memories. There I showed up vulnerable again and again. Open to whatever showed up. Throwing colors and textures here and there. No rules. No pleasing others. I entered a place of solitude which beckoned my Anguished Soul to speak. And it did.
For four years, I showed up at the studio table. Finding solace in the Art. The images held my Sorrow. They also held my movement through the Sorrow.
The shapes were mountains. Not mountains I had ever seen but mountains expressed from my Heart.
Big intense mountains morphed into mesas into rolling hills. One day I created a field with a clear horizon.
“Wait. I don’t do horizons.”
I looked back over the pieces I created from 2004-2008, arranged them in order and saw an amazing thing. My grief process was captured in my art. There it was. The Sorrow expressed in mountainous terrains. The flat horizon indicated Resolution. I made it through the gauntlet.
Little did I know that my art captured the passage through Sorrow. This was my unconscious process made conscious. All those years, I thought I was only making room for Sorrow but my heart was growing big enough to include Joy. Today I know my heart has the capacity to hold Joy and Sorrow in my heart at the same time. Painful? Yes. Necessary process? Yes. I had to go through the deep grief because I loved deeply.
Originally a folk song and then a children’s book, Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, conveys a delightful and helpful message about every Obstacle:
You can’t go over it.
You can’t go under it.
You can’t go around it.
You have to go through it.
You have to go THROUGH the grief? Yes. Actively. Are there obstacles? Yes. Painful ones.
The Loving Heart feels pain and sorrow. It also feels Joy. The Heart can hold both Joy and Sorrow at the same time. How does that happen? By going THROUGH the feelings. Experiencing emotion develops the Heart Space. But here’s the skinny…It takes Courage to choose to go through the emotions of loss and love.
My art showed my choice to move through the Sorrow. I must say it was quite a messy process. Nothing pretty about the Sorrowful Heart. Yet there is a beauty of the soulful journey of being human. Nothing more beautiful than to love others and be loved in return.
Maybe the title of this post, points to the Bare Vulnerability of the Heart when we love? Maybe it points to the Searching Heart looking for Love? Maybe the title points to what is most needed in the grief process…the animal spirit of the Bear: slow, steady with a dogged strength and fierceness as needed?
The metaphor of moving through the Obstacles captures what is needed to traverse the terrain of grief: a choice to move toward Joy with effort, action, one’s whole Being, one’s whole Heart all the while carrying the Sorrow for the One you Love.
Here is my prayer for you if you choose to love….
May your Heart stretch and become resilient.
May your Heart be able to hold both Joy and Sorrow.
May you go through grief knowing you do not leave your Sorrow behind.
You take it with you.
How could it be any other way?
Here is my wish for you…
May you know Love.
May you live in the preciousness of that exchange.
With a Grateful Heart of Love,