Sunday, August 26, 2007

Love and the Pain of Leaving

You might think the pain after a tremendous loss would be too great to risk the chance of experiencing it again. I have often thought about this, but never been able to put into words exactly how I feel. Once again, Henri Nouwen has, in a most eloquent manner, found the words which have eluded me. If Nouwen is a bit too philosophical for you, perhaps Garth Brooks would be more your “cup of tea”. Either way, the message is the same.

Garth Brooks (The Dance lyrics):
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance

Henri Nouwen (Daily Meditation):

Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies ... the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.

Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.

I especially like the last paragraph of Nouwen's meditation. I have personally experienced the immense joy loving completely can afford us, but as a result, I endured intense suffering (through grief). The risk of loving was worth taking. What's more, the experience has provided hope for the future. I can see myself taking the chance again because though the pain was great----"the dance" was better.

This I know for sure.