Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gift of Darkness

I recently found this lovely Mary Oliver poem. It's been rattling around in my head ever since I read it first:
 
The Uses of Sorrow
 
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
 
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.


As I've worked on becoming more grateful, I've had to confront some bitterness I've kept close, cherished even. (Note to future self: Keeping bitterness close? Super bad idea.)

Facing the ugliness wasn't easy. I've nursed and polished the hurt, noticing every little facet of it, allowing it to take up so much more head and heartspace than I ever intended. Since I'm on this journey of gratitude, I decided to turn what I'm learning to this very hard task. I started talking about why I was grateful for the pain itself, why I was grateful for the givers of pain. I started thanking Heavenly Father for the experiences I was enduring. I prayed to love those who had hurt me and to find more about them to appreciate. I prayed that they would have peace and happiness in their lives.

Guess what? It's working.

And it's a gift.

The experiences?

Gifts.

And those who gave me these experiences?

Gifts, too.

When is it easiest to sense the truth in Oliver's poem? When I'm emotionally healthy, when I'm sleeping enough, when I'm studying scriptures, when I'm communicating with the divine. At those times, I see that opposition in all things is a true principle: I won't become the woman I can be if I hold all my pain too close. Frankly, I can't hold on to pain and hold on to peace at the same time. So I'm opening my heart, letting go my desire for control or revenge or whatever else wants to tuck itself close and feed like a parasite. And that space I'm freeing up? I'm accepting new tenants: Peace. Happiness. Love. And hope...it's so great to have hope back.

4 comments:

Jana K said...

That's beautiful Kerri and oh so true. It's hard to let go of those "cherished" hurts, but I, too, have found more peace when I do. Thank you.

Michelle said...

Really, really and truly? I find this so hard to understand-- I need some personal tutoring.

Cath said...

Kerri - you know I love Oliver. And this tiny poem is a treasure. I could so relate to this: "When is it easiest to sense the truth in Oliver's poem? When I'm emotionally healthy, when I'm sleeping enough, when I'm studying scriptures, when I'm communicating with the divine."

And your words about letting go and freeing up space, I think you've described the Atonement perfectly. Letting our will go, accepting, making a place for new peace. Beautiful Kerri. Sure love you.

Amber said...

I will have to read her work, this poem is incredible. Your thoughts on it are even more incredible. I need to go ponder this and my own experiences. Thanks.