Susan's Thursday morning note October 3, 2019 Finding beauty during times of grief. Description of comfort in a graveyard. China Court by Rumer Godden
Good morning. Good morning. Complete silence. Stars peering over my angel of dawn’s shoulder through my window. She is early this morning. Encouraging me in the early dawn moments to enter this day. This beautiful fall day. So many mixed emotions on beautiful fall mornings for anyone experiencing memories that hurt. Memories that show clearly on crisp mornings.
A small older book sits next to me by Rumer Godden, China Court. Scenes run back and forth between generations living in the same home, showing connections of events running through the course of a home over time. Difficult to follow because of continual jumping between eras, but intriguing because of the reality of how the past carries into the present. I’ll write out for you two sections that I loved. The first from the oldest woman in the home sharing how she survives grief. How she still is able to find beauty in life. Second are thoughts from the granddaughter as she drives away from the cemetery after her grandmother’s burial.
Beautiful life even in the midst of grief:
“Memory is the only friend of grief.”…Mrs. Quin says it is not true. Even when one is stricken, much remains; often creature things: drinking good tea from a thin porcelain cup; hot baths; the smell of a wood fire, the warmth of firelight and candlelight. The sound of a stream can be consolation, thinks Mrs. Quin, or the shape of a tree; even stricken, she can enjoy those. To hold a skeleton leaf, see its structure, can safely lift one away from grief for a moment, marveling; and sunrises help, she thinks, though sunsets are dangerous, and moon and stars; they stir too much. Shells are safe, and birds and most little animals, kittens or foals especially, for they are not sentimental. Dogs sometimes know too much, though it is then, after Tracy, that she gets a new puppy, Bumble. “I have been happy in food,” Mrs. Quin is able to say. How ridiculous to find consolation in food, but it is true and when one is taking those first steps back, bruised and wounded, one can read certain books: Hans Andersen, and the Psalms, Jane Austen, a few other novels. Helped by those things, life reasserts itself, as it must, even when one knows one will be stricken again: Tracy, Stace, Borowis, those are her private deepest names…
…How can something be sad and glad at the same time? For most of the Quin women, it has been like that. “All unhappiness,” says Mrs. Quin, “as you live with it, becomes shot through with happiness; it cannot help it; and all happiness, I suppose, is shot through with unhappiness. But I was usually happy…”
Thoughts after leaving a graveyard:
It wasn’t like going away, it was a joining…It is a joining; the family dead are up in the windy graveyard, a wide plot of grassed land, filled with wild daffodils in spring and only walled from the moor by piled grey stones; heather and bracken push through the chinks and sometimes wild ponies spring over. “I’m glad they brought Damaris back and let her lie there.” Mrs. Quin says that often. “I’m glad she is here.” There is the same strength of granite as in the house, but the church is far older…The villagers come here often because, contrary to most modern belief, there is comfort in a grave; it can be a quiet place to sit by for a visit, with its ordered grass and still stones, and it brings a sense of nearness; indeed a grave can be almost a companion, a visit to it a pilgrimage back to love…
Life. So short. Beauty everywhere. This morning silence is beautiful. Stars are beautiful. No birds singing yet, even they are enjoying the stillness a few minutes longer. Little moments. To watch my little whosit stop in wonder over what to me would have been overlooked is the easiest way to refocus on what is beautiful. What is life. What gifts are around me to help me from my Creator. The joy of rescuing a frog from the water each morning. The joy of sitting on the third step up and looking around. The joy of a ramp into the store. The joy of ice cream. The joy of dirt. All gifts. All simple. The smile and look into my eyes from my older treasure. Joy. Life is so short. Today we have the gift from the angel of dawn handed to us again. Our gift. Regardless of what is handed to us within the moments can we find beauty somewhere? A rose coming out just for our pleasure? A bird singing specifically to encourage us? Today. Life. Will we take time to notice? To have moments worthy of inscripting in stone on our epitaph for today that we will have the opportunity to carve tonight in our minds? Thank you for letting me have our store. For letting me enter your Thursday again. Have a beautiful end of the week. I hope I’m working when you walk in our door. The coffee will be brewing! Susan
Latin for this week: vita pulchra est, vita bella, vita est pulchra, vita est bella - Life is beautiful. Works Cited: Godden, Rumer. China Court. New York. Viking Press. 1960.