Friday, January 18, 2019

The gift of gain in loss...

“Losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much of our growth and gain.” - Judith Viorst

A couple of years ago now, a dear friend and her daughter gave us the gift of a newfound activity. I don’t think they could ever have imagined how timely that gift was, and how it filled a small and empty space, created by loss. The activity promised to open new doors of exploration and discovery for which we are deeply grateful.

In her classic book, “Necessary Losses”, Judith Viorst writes about how we must try to understand, and accept, life’s inevitabilities. We begin the process of loss, after all, the moment we are born. Leaving behind the warmth and safety of the womb, we enter a radically different, dangerous, and unforgiving environment. But it is in this very same environment that we experience “growth and gain”, and ever-increasing wisdom. It is where we spend the rest of our lives…and where we will come to know, intimately, the nature of loss. As I enter my 70th year, there have been many losses, both large and small. I know what it is to lose parents, relatives, countless beloved parishioners, my oldest friend…and some heartfelt dreams, dreams that may have never been mine to realize. I am not alone, of course, we can all identify with loss.

It is, admittedly, a very small thing, but I have a troublesome left knee. The consequence is that some lifelong passions such as downhill and backcountry skiing are no longer advisable. This has meant a disconnection from “winter”, a season that brought so much enjoyment, so much meaning, often in remote and magical places, over many years. The introduction to snowshoeing by our friends, however, has brought light and life to a little place of longing and nostalgia. It is possible, again, to explore the winter woods and the Island mountains, breathing deeply and contemplatively.

Our friends’ gift, however, was most importantly, a gentle reminder that in loss, there are “spaces” for gain…and growth. May you too, discover and cherish, these opportunities.

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