It’s been a gray, rainy, dark autumn in Appleton. The past few weeks, I allowed external weather to overly impact my internal weather. I’ve felt crabby and frustrated, even angry. I’ve felt constricted inside: my throat tight from wanting to control the uncontrollable, my heart closed to joy and wonder. I saw clearly how this doesn’t feel good.
As many of you know, I volunteer in prison, sitting in a circle with inmates, teaching and practicing mindfulness. My most recent, real writing comes from these prison experiences. It’s deep spiritual practice—both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It connects me to humanity in simple and profound ways.
Grief is visceral, unpredictable, and raw. Part of me resists grief, wishing it were done, completed, and gone. This same resistance holds self-judgment: Get over it, Joy; toughen up. Yet I don’t want to “toughen up.” The wiser, kinder parts of me welcome waves of grief. These waves honor my tenderness and vulnerability. They cultivate deep love and gratitude. They connect me to humanity.
Humanity has been in my heart and on my mind. I sit with the suffering of humanity: natural disasters, acts of violence, discrimination, injustice, and abuse. I also experience the sea of humanity. We live in communities yet sometimes don’t interact. We can get lost in our busy lives, important tasks, or personal dramas.