The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)

I stumbled upon this poem again, last night, in a book I’m reading called, “Slow Love: How I lost my job, put on my pajamas and found happiness” by Dominique Browning, editor of Home & Garden before the magazine was closed down and everyone laid off in Nov. of 2008. It’s an easy read and enjoyable. It’s not unlike, “Eat Pray Love” except it doesn’t purport to be a spiritual book, just a story of her life after being fired. She talks about eating, a lot. And about love, complicated and messy. And she talks about prayer, a little bit.

Mostly she talks about trying to find purpose and meaning in her life, and to some degree finding it through gardening. Makes me want to pick up a shovel, at least in more than the figurative way I have been shoveling this year. The book, and the poem, remind me how far I’ve come and how sometimes the most difficult things that happen to us can somehow produce gifts as well.

Sometimes. There are some sorrows for which, as we move through it, or maybe just learn to live again with the sorrow as the dominant reality of life,  whatever gifts life brings us will never compensate for the sorrow itself. Maybe I’m wrong about that? Only time will tell, I suppose.


About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
This entry was posted in Mary Oliver, Slow Love, sorrow. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Uses of Sorrow

  1. Yngvil says:

    I feel so familiar with what you are writing. The worst can sometimes turn into the best and that must be the greatest gift in life. To see the good even when life walks in the wrong direction.I think I need to be on the lookout for that book. From what you said about it I really think I could like it.

  2. altar ego says:

    I think good can always be teased from the hurtful, painful, sorrow-filled. The challenge seems to be to risk being vulnerable to perceive and receive the gift. When we can do that, it changes everything. Scars don't disappear, but the blunt force of their delivery can be muted and, if not healed, at least offer a point of return and on which to reflect. When new experiences and new life enter the picture, scars have a way of appearing differently to us somehow. At least, that is my experience.

  3. Diane says:

    this sounds like a good good book.(Terri)

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