There is a war that rages in my heart between life and death, right and wrong, sorrow and joy, good and bad, faith and fear. I have learned, through prayer and meditation, to love and honor both sides of the war and to rest in the middle ground, where peace is always awaiting my return. I want so desperately to make the war end, and that desire for a different reality only increases my suffering. Every time I feel the tension of the two polarities, I am called to presence. In the moment there is peace. The peace is not always instantaneous, but it is always there. Sometimes I just have to hold my heart as the war ensues, and bring kindness and compassion. I look at both sides with curiosity, and release the judgment. I cry out to God in my distress and he hears me. Underneath the clashing, clanging chaos that distracts and torments me, there is a still, small voice. It is a gentle voice that whispers a deeper truth, “it is well…” It beckons me to trust, and to remember, and to stop fighting myself and my reality, and to embrace the mystery that is here and now.
When my friend Mark lost his battle to cancer, his beautiful and faithful wife, Julie, said, “He may have lost his battle, but the war has already been won.” The small part of my mind doesn’t understand, and fights against the truth she reveals. I rise up in anger and cower in fear. My heart wails in its grief. Then I sit with the truth. I hold my own battle-weary heart with kindness, and the comfort of my own presence ushers in the healing presence of God. It wraps me up like a soft cozy blanket and begins to heal my battered and bleeding heart. The comfort of love reminds me to trust, even though I don’t like or understand what I see and feel. The voice of love says, “Hang onto hope – this is not the end of the story.”
I am invited into a larger story and a truer truth. I am called to shift my awareness and to receive the hope of resurrection.
When my sister died, I fell headlong into the river of grief. When I pulled myself onto the shore, one of my fellow travelers said, “Tell me about your anger toward God.” I told her I wasn’t angry at God, I was angry at cancer. Cancer is the evil that comes like a thief in the night to kill, steal and destroy. God is the one who opens the door to heaven and makes a way forward. The grave is not the end of the story; it is just the hard waiting-space where we are called to wrestle in the dark and fight valiantly until the joy returns. After a few years of intense loss and grief, I am finally starting to feel joy again. It is not constant, but it is there. The fear, anger and sorrow try to pull me away and mock my hope, but I am learning to embrace all of it. In the moment I stop fighting against my reality, peace returns. Peace always leads me back to a love that is big enough to hold and calm my fear. A light that is bright enough to conquer the dark. A faith that is strong enough to hold the mystery that is here and now. As I allow myself freedom to feel the complexity of emotions, my weapons no longer seem useful. I am learning to lay my weapons of survival down and rest in the discomfort of the waiting space.
Yes, I am called to fight, but I now realize I have been fighting the wrong war for far too long. There is a beautiful space in between the pain of death and the glory of resurrection. In the waiting, God is there! He is calling us to be still and know, to rise up and fight the good fight. Will you turn toward yourself and others with kindness and curiosity, to allow the eyes of love to heal and restore? There is so much good work to do in this world. We are invited to fight against the lies that our needs are bad and that our emotions disqualify us from the fight. We are called to rise up and hold hands and support one another so that together we can bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. The kingdom of heaven is in our own hearts. The same hearts that have been crushed by pain and death also hold the mysterious light of heaven that binds up the broken and saves those who are still crushed under the weight of death. Today, I wonder what would happen if you were to lay down your harsh judgments and grab hold of the sword of the Spirit. What if you stood firm and ready to step peacefully into the world, knowing that your current battlefield is the place where freedom and life are calling you home?
Jean Masukevich is a trauma sensitive yoga teacher and integrative coach with over 20 years of teaching experience. Her mission is to guide others to greater mind, body, Spirit integration and connection to their authentic self. She cultivates communities of care where individuals and groups heal and share their hearts and stories through movement, writing, meditation, integrative prayer, creativity, and the sacred art of listening. Jean holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith. Jean serves both children and adults and is available for in person and remote coaching. Contact her at Sowthatjean@gmail.com.