From the Clearing, with gratitude

This year, in this season, I am practicing standing gratefully and intentionally in the receiving space that Martha Postlethwaite describes in her poem, “Clearing.”

Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there


until the song

that is your life

falls into your own cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world

so worth of rescue.  ~ Martha Postlethwaite

At this time two years ago, I was sitting with my Dad as the hospice chaplain read him the Sacrament of the Sick. Dad had been inwardly focused for weeks, mostly non-verbal with his eyes closed against the noise, confusion and distraction from the outside world. But the day that the hospice chaplain came, Dad was wide awake and eager to engage. I was so glad to look into his eyes and to share words of comfort, hugs, tears and laughter. As I describe in Without a Map, A Caregiver’s Journey through the Wilderness of Heart and Mind,

It felt as though Dad had come back from a deep and private place in order to say good-bye. I was so glad to be there and to be ready for the conversation he had wanted to have. I drove away wishing I had offered more or different words and that I had understood more of the meaning in his words. But I also drove away with a much lighter heart that afternoon and felt that Dad’s heart was lighter too.

The comfort and connection of that afternoon ushered us both into a peace that had been elusive for months. We were standing in the clearing, trusting what was to come.

It would be a month before he died. There were plenty of ups and downs yet to come, but at the time I was not thinking of future or the past. I was simply grateful for this momentary deep breath of awareness and ease.

So much grace, learning, and vibrancy has fallen into my cupped hands in the two years since Dad died. I am honored by the gifts of insight and experience that I received in our journey together and I am so grateful for the opportunity now to share our story with others.

In the clearing, there is room enough for grief and gratitude. There is time for both joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. There is permission to know and permission not to know. There is peace.

And, in my cupped hands, there is room for it all.

And there is room left to wonder — about me, about you, about where we are and where we are going —  and to wonder about what you find falling into your cupped hands.

What is arriving there?