Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Grief is a journey that knows its way"

When I wrote last week about what gives me solace, a couple of people who commented suggested that I might read some of John O'Donohue's writings. I recall the poem, "Beannacht", which Cate included in her blog tribute to him just after his passing. Lila suggested I read his poem about death walking with us, and, though I have encountered it in the past, I cannot find it right now. The only one of his books I could lay my hand on in my house was "Eternal Echoes". (One thing that has happened me in these few weeks is that my memory has been affected. My instinctive knowledge of my bookshelves has been erased or diminished greatly. I can't find my away around my own library. Strange and scary!)
In "Eternal Echoes" I read:

"Despite its severity, the consolation at a time of grief is that it is a journey. Grief has a structure; it knows the direction and it will take you through... Experience always knows its way. And we can affort to trust our souls much more than we realize. The soul is always wiser than the mind, even though we are dependent on the mind to read the soul for us. Though travel is slow on the grief journey, you will move through its grey valley and come out again onto the meadow where light, colour and promise await to embrace you..."

Read again:

"The soul is always wiser than the mind, even though we are dependent on the mind to read the soul for us."

I know this. My soul knows this. My heart knows this. My bones know this. We all really know this. The soul seeks out what it needs. My sister sought me out this week. She came up to stay a few days on Monday, and we followed her need for the sea, to put her feet in the sea.

Do you know the consolation of poetry? Imagine at a time like this having the sudden opportunity to hear Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney read together! We went on Tuesday evening, and that was soul-healing.

Yesterday, we worked in my garden, clearing, tidying, and filling pots with colour. My sister helped me make a space in which it is a pleasure to sit once more, and in the evening, we lit candles and torches and sat to welcome two friends for a visit.

We turned to our SoulCollage® cards. I seleced four cards to suggest what would support me in this grief journey. The first card I pulled was my "Caring Gardener", and I was so surprised! When I speak from that card, I'm reminded that, as I care for the earth, the earth cares for me and keeps me in contact with the cycles of life. (I share the full SoulCollage reading on my SoulFragments blog HERE) This is a really important part of the grief journey, I'm sure.

I know that if I were to return to visit this garden I visited in March, when the above photo was taken, those spaces will be filled with lush and colourful plants and vegetables. Prior to our mother's death, both my sister and I had spoken of our intention to make a vegetable-garden next year. It seems all the more important to us now that we should carry this out - on however small a scale, we both feel the need to grow something that will nurture.

I am trusting my soul to know the next steps on the journey.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Solace...... Sunday Scribblings

Over at Sunday Scribblings, this week, they ask: "In what do you find solace? What place is solace for you? Where do you go in yourself or outside of yourself when you need comfort or consolation? Why do you seek solace? What does it mean for you?"


I so often find that the prompt is apt to what's going on for me at any given time, but today, that word is more than apt, and these questions are more than meaningful for me. In this time, these short couple of weeks after the loss of my mother, I am seizing scraps of solace here and there, and I have been lucky, lucky, lucky in being able to stay with my family until I felt ready to return to my own home (which I did just two days ago).

I have taken solace in the sight of my Dad sitting in his chair with a glass of milk and a sandwich (or later in the day, with a glass of his favourite tipple, a little whiskey). I have taken solace in the presence of my sisters and brothers, my nephews, neices and cousins. I have sought out the comfort of sleep, dropping into naps and snoozes at all hours of day or night, and have slept in the bed that once was my mother's.

My soul has been soothed with the repetition of favourite prayers and sayings from Bahá’í writings. I haven't been able to concentrate very fully on reading anything unfamiliar, so have relied on memory.

I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?
........ (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

And my mother's favourite prayer:

"Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."
............ (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah)

Over and over, there is solace in such a prayer; there is healing.

I haven't felt like listening to radio, or turning on the TV. I haven't even sought out music, until today - my first day alone, but I have had music in my head, and the words of the song my brother sang as part of the funeral service have stayed with me as a solace and comfort.

"Close your eyes... you can close your eyes... it's alright..." Over and over, like a mantra of consolation.

More than anything, though, I've found solace in the words and contact from people who have heard of my mother's death and gotten in touch, in person, by post, by phone or email to say "I'm sorry for your loss". People say there are no adequate words, but the simple gesture of reaching out touches the grieving soul, lets them know they are not alone in their loss, and it is hugely comforting. My sister and I sat yesterday (the first proper opportunity I'd had) and read the comments left on the post where I announced my mother's death. 32 people that we've never met reached out and offered words of comfort and consolation that left us both in tears.

At home, during the days of the funeral preparations, people came to our home with flowers, flowers, flowers. The house still smells of lilies and freesias. Those who knew my mother - and it seems, even those who only knew of her - knew that she loved fresh flowers. Her grave was covered with so many wreaths they lay 3-deep, and though my mother was a person of moderate tastes, and not given to extravagance in any form, none of us considered for a moment limiting the number of flowers. That once, that last time, extravagance was the right thing for my mother. And that gives me solace.

Her resting place is a beautiful cemetary. Her grave adjoins that of one of her beloved sisters, and that gives me solace.

Now I am at the point where I could wander, ramble and say so much, but for now, I will leave what I have to say at that. ... And this...

I thank each of you for your kindness and your thoughts. If you did not see my first post saying my dear mother had passed away, let me tell you that there is great solace and comfort for all my family in the fact that her death was peaceful, quiet and free of pain.

There was so much solace for me, in the initial shock of the news (received while I was in California, a continent and an ocean away from home), in the presence of friends who held me and comforted me, prayed with me, and saw me safely on my way home; in the blessing of my son, my wonderful young man, who met me in New York, and travelled the rest of the journey with me, protectively shepherding me, and fielding all the travel difficulties that we encountered.

My family is a family that has been blessed in many ways. We have encountered no great tragedies along the path, and we have all come into adulthood, and seen our children grow, before we have experienced the loss of a parent. I know how fortunate I've been in this. I thank God for the mother and father I was given.

In the past, I've avoided writing too much here about my mother, frankly because during her time in the nursing home (7 years), it became too sad, too difficult to share what I felt about her, but I think you will all be hearing much more in time to come, about Mary (Eaton) Maguire, my mother, whose presence in this world was a solace to me, to all of my family, and to many many more.

May she rest in peace.

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Monday, July 14, 2008


My dear friends,

I am saddened... heartbroken, to share with you the news that my mother passed away last Wednesday, 9th July. But within the sadness there is so much to be grateful for; there are and have been so many blessings showered on me and my family over these past days; there is a sense of absolute assurance that her soul is progressing now, free from the limitations of this physical world. She was buried after a beautiful ceremony on Saturday last, 12th July. My family has been surrounded by love and care which we appreciate deeply.

Prayers, thoughts, the lighting of a candle are all so welcome. If you pass a flower that catches your eye, allow a thought of Mary Maguire to be offered.

I thank you.



Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Well... if you saw that cloud, wouldn't you pull over to take the picture too?

And now that I look at the photo, what about the figure in the top-left?