In a beautiful turn of phrase, poet David Whyte invites us to slip beneath the still surface of the well of grief and descend through the blackness to find a secret source of cold clear water from which to drink.
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.
The metaphor is apt; each time I turn to the page to write about Chris, I visit this well. I know that its waters nourish me but, at first sight, they are black and uninviting. Each time I ask myself, “Do I really have to go there again?” and then, “Should I drink? Shall I jump in? Will I drown?”
People do drown in wells and sometimes in despair but shedding the hot tears and drinking the cold clear waters of grief seem to nourish and restore us. Why should this be? Perhaps because grief is not just a personal affliction. We all visit the well from time to time and, in a close-knit community, when one weeps all weep; when one drinks, all drink.
Chris had an extraordinary capacity for building and fostering community: a web of relationships criss-crossing the world. Few things delighted her more than connecting interesting and like-minded people together. This enduring community of friendship that now sustains and supports me is her last and perhaps her greatest gift. Some of you read this blog and either comment or contact me privately to express your love and solidarity, for which I am enormously grateful. I miss her desperately but I am not alone in my grief.
More than 150 of you have already said that you’ll be coming to celebrate her life at Matara on 29-30 June and many more will be calling in by Skype from far-flung places. During these two days, let us drink deeply from the well of grief so that we may swim more joyfully in the waters of life, rejoicing in her memory.
Let this be the treasure we find at the bottom of the well.