Friday, February 3, 2012

Burdens and Blessings

     Some years ago when I was going through a particularly difficult period of loss and despair, a dear, dear friend gave me a collection of saying stones.  You know the ones - tumbled river rocks of various sizes etched with a word or phrase intended to inspire or console you.  They were beautiful and I was touch by the gift.  One of the stones was engraved with the word: "blessings"

     Ultimately, as part of my healing process I planted a memory garden in a visible but out of the way corner of my backyard.  I had never done anything like that before and cannot say what drove me to do it, but the entire process was incredibly therapeutic: the research of plants gave my mind something to do, the physical labor of digging and planting gave my body something to do, and the artistic design gave my heart expression.  In the center I made a small labyrinth of stones and the Blessings stone went in the middle.  The memory garden remains a special place, but the act of creating it was the powerful piece for me personally and once planted that spring, I rarely give it much thought.

     Summer and the New England snows came and went and when the spring thaw came, the little garden was covered in leaves that were missed in the fall clean up.  My husband ran the lawnmower over the whole area and the Blessings stone was picked up and spit out far from where I had initially placed it.  I found it on a chilly early spring day and put it in my winter coat pocket - which was soon after stored away, the stone completely forgotten.

     The next fall when it got cold and I put on the coat, I wondered why it was so heavy and putting my hand in the pocket rediscovered the Blessings stone.  By then I had more perspective and distance from the despair of the previous year and the stone spoke to me in a new way.

     The weight of it reminded me that  we all hold blessings that can feel like burdens.  

     We expect blessings to be light, easy and perpetually joyous but  in reality the most treasured blessings bring with them substance, weight and complexity.  A blessing is not a temporary or fleeting joy, but a thing that becomes part of you and your heart, that has meaning and richness which grows with time and imparts meaning on a truly deep level.  Blessings are confusing, complicated and bewildering - revealing themselves only their own time, not ours.

     Like the stone that appeared at all the right times and yet so often hid out of sight and mind, blessings come to us.  We can not plan for them or work towards them.  They arrive on our doorsteps not when we schedule them, but unexpectedly and often inconveniently.

     The question is this: Can we recognize and honor the blessing that comes wrapped in the weight of a burden?  Can we stop our time to honor the gift that comes in its own time? Can we be humble and open enough to wade through the complexity and live in the ambiguity that accompany the most treasured of all blessings?  Can we see past the light, easy and fleeting to appreciate the meaningful, difficult, and lasting?

     Can we recognize that our both our heart's ache and our heart's joy come in direct proportion to the blessing we have been granted?


  1. What a beautiful post.. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. beautiful.. I struggle with grief so hard and this was just beautiful. Thank you

  3. I am delighted that it spoke to you both. Please feel free to share your stories here. We are here to support you in your grief and often sharing is a helpful first step.

    Best wishes,

    Founder and Director
    New England Pet Hospice, Inc.