Bright Sadness

Today a hurricane is pressing on our eastern coast. Over the weekend there were more shootings. There was a deadly ship fire in California where many are still missing. There were personal car wrecks, diagnoses and tragedies. There was the same old political rhetoric that I can now hardly bear to hear though I care very much about how things turn out.

In between all this, birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated. People traveled and had family reunions. College and high school football seasons began. We tried to distract ourselves with the good things. I know I did. Our family celebrated my dad’s 85th birthday. My sweet grandsons were here. Our daughter and younger son were home too. Our house and hearts were full. In the midst of that, as all families do, we had family dynamics going on, pulling us down, causing some angst even as we celebrated.

As I wrote this blog, what started out as a beautiful promising day back to school for students and teachers in our area was jarred by a bomb threat and the evacuation of two campuses.

I wonder why life is so mixed? So bittersweet? So yes, but…?

We use the phrase “it’s all good.” But that is pretty much never the truth. We should say, “It’s all mixed.”

I believe there is a reason life is so mixed, so not black and white. It forces us to hold on to Mystery. It forces us to admit we don’t know everything. The distinct lack of clarity with any given thing forces me to my knees often. I have to create a spiritual center inside of myself where trust is bigger than my anxiety. Trust needs to be bigger than all the good blessings and way bigger than all the difficult things that happen.

The future? I have no idea. The past? I can’t quite make sense of it. Today? I know it is a gift but how will it unfold?

In Greek, there is a rather obscure word, charmolypi which translates as a joyful mourning, bitter joy or a bright sadness. This fascinates me because it sums up life as I experience it.

God’s mixed grill is what writer Anne Lamott names it.

I am more healed when I’m able to name the mixed nature of life. There is this…and at the same time this. Celebration alongside grief. Loved ones and family dynamics. A world in need of healing and yet nasty politics and inaction. Bright blue sky September days and bomb threats.

What’s mixed with you today? Naming it may help heal it.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor.

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