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Mourning Light

I’ve been struggling lately. A sadness has been bubbling up, and while my instinct is to shove it back down, I know I need to move through it, so bear with me.

We’ve all been through something big and awful on many levels. And now that we’re through it, it's natural to want to party. For some of us the nightmare started in the spring of 2020, and for many of us it began in the fall of 2016. What followed was a long, dark, scary time during which bad seemed to pile on bad. We looked around at a world we hardly recognized, wondering when we’d wake up. It was mind-bending, but it was real.

And then the dawn broke. Happy days are here again! Walking into a store without a mask for the first time was exhilarating. Family Hug Day and my first Open Studio were wonderful. Each was a celebration, an opening back into the light, the end of the nightmare. So why am I finding myself filled with sadness?

What I’ve come to realize is that there’s a lot of grief inside me that needs to be processed. While bad stuff is ongoing, we need all of our strength to get through, so we push down the very magnitude of the loss in order to carry on. And once we’re back on our feet, past the crisis, it is easy to imagine that we’re done with it. We want to do a happy dance and get back to the business of living like we did before. But it doesn’t work that way. I realize now that before I can move on, I must mourn. I need to honor the pain and the sorrow of what’s been lost.

We’ve all endured, some so much more than others, but all of us have been tested. It’s not a matter of picking up where we left off. We are changed. We are different. We need to honor what has been lost, to mourn, to let free all that was pent up and pushed down. Because if we don’t, we will spend the rest of our days using energy to hold back the reckoning, and that is energy we won’t have for fully being in this new day. I believe that as much as we hold back sorrow, we hold back joy in equal measure. It’s not easy to make that space for our loss, and each of us has to find our own way. For me, I hope to explore these feelings and give them room in my heart through a new series I’m calling “Mourning Light.” I realize I’ve already been doing so with some of my paintings.

I want to explore the quiet light that is tinged with the sorrow of the setting sun. I want to honor the dawn’s harbinger of a new day, which carries the shadows of the night from which it sprung. I want to explore this feeling in my heart of joy tinged with sadness and recognize that both need a voice. If I want the joy, and I do, then I must own the sorrow, and I will. I hope to honor both in this new series, and I hope it resonates with you, as well.

If you have a story you would like to share with me of Mourning Light, I would love to hear it. Maybe it’s recent, maybe it’s ancient, and maybe it’s ongoing. Maybe we can help each other find and honor the grief while celebrating the light. And maybe your story will become a painting we can share.

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