Having lunch with one of my inner circle friends, she comments that as close as we are, she still had little idea as to the extent of what I experienced in the later part of my marriage. I pick up that it worries her, this ability I have to share only certain details, to withhold how I’m really feeling, what is really going on with me. I talk a lot, but calculate what I will share. It is not so much that I think it is a bother, rather I am used to keeping it wrapped up tight, mine. I don’t like people to see me sad. I am a happy person. What can they do? More so, what is it they may suggest I do that I am not yet prepared to act on?
When animals are in considerable pain they withdraw from the household, choosing to hide up in a closet, under the bed, in a secluded area to heal. Compromised, vulnerable, a lack of defenses, hiding provides safety from potential predators. I don’t think this is unique to animals. When we are hurting, sad, emotionally bewildered, we tend to isolate. Withdraw from friends, social activities; hunker down for the long haul. But we are not animals, we are human. We need other people. We were not designed to be alone. God did not intend for us a solitary existence. He gave us others to help our healing process. Yet to reach out of darkness, sadness, takes extraordinary effort; extraordinary courage.
So with a characteristic Godly intervention, as I am carrying around my sadness while I drive a detour of closed roads from Hurricane Irene, I chance to see an old friend walking in her neighborhood. I stop with the intention of just saying hi, but the tears refuse to cooperate and flow freely. I get out, we embrace. She, too, is in the midst of a difficult emotional time. She lives alone and has been suffering singularly. My sadness seems inconsequential in comparison as she comforts me with hugs and a ready ear.
I am reminded of the relief that comes from sharing. That it is never too heavy for someone else to share the weight of our pain. That a chance encounter is an opportunity to leave ourselves and be present for someone else.
My friend encourages me to write, write, write until I feel better. It has been a few days and I still struggle to find any words. I pull them out, reticent characters from a room closed off, searching for a ray of sunlight in the darkness. She contacts me asking have I written, with her subject line “chance encounter”, to which I respond now ‘nothing is chance’.
…. for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Matthew 25:35