“If you don’t shed tears here, you have missed the point.”
– Ellen Davis, Duke University Theologian
So, let’s begin with tears.
Sometimes, your heart just has to break. And sometimes, you just have to cry.
(Stick with me – I’ll get to joy.)
Lord knows there are enough things to cry about right now, things we face together and things we face alone. Or at least it feels like we’re facing them alone.
We are all dealing with the collective reality of COVID-19’s reaching its tentacles into our hospitals, our nursing homes, our streets, our factories, our schools, our theatres, our galleries, our bookstores, our stadiums...
And we are all dealing with the individual reality of COVID-19’s reaching into our psyches...and reaching into our assumptions.
Combine our collective grief and our individual grief and, yes, there’s a lot to cry about.
That combination struck home for me last week when a friend’s 98-year-old mother died of COVID-19 in her nursing home.
When I join grief about COVID-19 with other sadness in my life – losing a cousin to cancer; mourning the deaths in Nova Scotia; watching a relative’s marriage disintegrate – I have done my share of crying.
Crying heals. Tears heal. They don’t change what has happened. But they do change how I feel about what has happened. Which is really important.
And then I start counting the joys in my life – my husband, his wondrous quilts, and his generous spirit; my family, my friends, my photography, and my writing; my home, my country, and my planet – and I realize that joys and tears work together. They are inseparable. If you want joy in your life, you have to take the tears as well. And, as my husband gently reminded me this week, tears express joy, too.
Which brings us to Edna, our Basset Hound, who has been accompanying me on my safely distanced photo expeditions around east-end Belleville. According to my iPhone’s pedometer, we clocked 152 km in April.
One reason I enjoy sharing walks with Edna is that she brings out the best in people. And she brings people joy. Strangers smile at her. Street conversations pop up spontaneously. People call her by name. (More people know her in the neighbourhood than me!)
Edna engages people’s “ahhhhhh” reflex. She allows people to emerge from their protective shells and engage with others, even in times such as now. Maybe especially in times such as now.
And gentle, loving Edna just carries on.
And bless all of you.
Stay safe. Stay well.
Let your hearts break when they need to. And then let them heal.
Tears and joy. A package deal.
Enjoy these Belleville photos. Edna helped make most of them.
Belleville General Hospital
Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario, Canada