I could barely lift my eyes to the front of the church where the casket lay open, devastatingly small. My body heaves with grief, my heart contracts with heaviness and sadness pours down in tears, falling on my face, my chest, my lap. My seven year old pulls out a crumpled tissue, quietly brings it up to my cheek and delicately dabs my streaks of sadness. This simple gesture opens my heart and for a moment I lean into tenderness and lightness.
I feel such pain for my cousin and his deep loss. Growing up we had a special connection. Watching him lose his son, just nine years old, I am drawn into the beautiful childhood intimacy we shared and the strength and familiarity of family bonds. I find solace in the memories we created a lifetime ago. This space crosses time and boundaries and I fall into the depths of love, a love that is timeless and healing.
We live in a world where the seemingly contradictory exist in any given moment: sadness and joy, love and pain, shadow and light; both coexist in the dance that is the human experience. The healer is wounded so he may heal and guide others through the healing process. The lover is lost and alone so he could find love within. We are always evolving into being, slipping off our outworn coats like a snake her skin, yet at the core remaining constant and true to who we are.
I have been contemplating polarity for some time (see floating ). Since I started professional shamanism training I have delved deep into paradoxical emotions. In the past year, I have felt pain one moment then wrapped in love another, emptiness one moment and fullness another. I have known myself, then suddenly became lost. I have felt alone then surrounded by my tribe, confused then bathed in complete clarity. I have felt ecstasy in one breath and sorrow another. These are the spaces in which we live, sometimes fully inhabiting one side, other times existing entirely in the other. And sometimes simultaneously living in both.
I lean against a tree and feel the earth below my feet, my back supported by the solid trunk and stare at Matteo’s Miracle Tree. Why? Why? How can this be? Questioning and doubt bombard my mind. He was such a loved, witty, inquisitive and charming little boy. Last summer on the day of his MRI, I discovered something I had never seen in nature, several bent and broken trunks lying on the earth, resting on the ground as if in submission, all sprouting from the same root system.
Looking at this tree, one would not expect it to be alive. But it was. It was not only alive, but growing new life out of the beautiful mangled mess, just as Matteo’s MRI had shown healing when it was not expected; his brain growing healthy new life where the tumour once was. I named this tree Matteo’s Miracle Tree.
It was exactly two months since Matteo left this world. I had been feeling unsettled all day and thought an escape to do an outdoor workout would help. When I arrived in my secluded alcove in the forest, I saw his tree and suddenly overcome with emotion, I dropped to the ground.
I realized I was being drawn into the forest, not to do lunges and push-ups, but to honour this moment. So I sat, body sunken into the earth, encircled by roots and leaves and stared at Matteo’s Miracle Tree, allowing the tears to flow; feeling the loving presence of a little boy.
On that day several hours away, Matteo’s parent’s were immersed in nature themselves, walking amongst trees and selecting a newly planted tree in his honour. Unbeknownst to us, at the same exact time we were in different cities in front of two very special trees both dedicated to Matteo, our tears flowing in unison to Mother Earth. And I knew this was not a coincidence, but a gift.
In that moment through my tears and questioning, I was guided to an intuitive knowing. The knowing we are all connected. We are connected by the strength and bond of love. A love that crosses time and space. A love that is healing. And this connection can never be severed, not even by death. My “why” may not have been answered, but I now realize I can hold this space of doubt at the same time as I hold this space of knowing.
And so it is, doubt and knowing, pain and love, heaviness and lightness, coexist at any given time. One could not be without the other. Experiencing each moment for what it is, I allow the emotions: sadness, pain, love and peace to be like waves, letting them ebb and flow within my heart. For I realize now this play of polarity, like motion and stillness, chaos and order that exists within the universe is ours to dance with. It is the dance of oneness.