A Bright Sadness

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This blog has been quiet for the past 40 plus days. This unintentional yet symbolic correspondence with the season of Lent and new life of Easter has not been lost on me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to record what’s been going on in my head and heart for past weeks and the new path that’s before me.

I don’t know how many of you observe Lent or what your observation of the season looks like. Some of you may give things up while others decide to take something on. Whether sacrificial or charitable, the heart of our decision is the intent to prepare ourselves for Easter, and to be different and changed when we arrive.

It took me a week or so to decide what to do to prepare my heart this year. I have plenty of bad habits to give up and could list numerous good things to take on, but action of either kind didn’t feel right. Feeling the need to make some changes in many areas of my life and not knowing exactly what those changes should be, the concept of trust began to run through my mind. I headed to our bookshelf to look for others’ wisdom on the topic.

I chose Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. Manning’s descriptions of trust found early on in the first chapter of his book struck a chord with me and lingered throughout the Lenten season. The words below are paraphrased from Manning’s (and Henri Nouwen’s) writing:

Trust is our gift back to God, which demands a degree of courage that borders on heroic.

Trust was the heart and center of Jesus’ teaching.

Trust will not dispel the confusion, illuminate the darkness, vanquish the uncertainty, and redeem the times, but uncompromising trust in the love of God inspires us to thank God for the darkness that envelops us and to risk a journey into the unknown, letting go of self-made props and believing that God is with us and will give us what we most need.

These words became real to me over the past several weeks of uncertainty, hope, and difficult decisions.

Halfway through reading Ruthless Trust I brought home a copy of The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming following a library trip with my boys. I thought it would be a fun, light read after finishing Ruthless Trust, and decided to peek through the first chapter that evening out of curiosity. I’m not sure if it was my love for Louisiana or the author’s writing style, but I was immediately hooked and couldn’t put the book down. What I expected to be a light-hearted, quick read became a soul-searching tear-jerker, meeting me in the middle of my Lenten journey.

The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming introduced me to the beautiful concept of bright sadness. In the Orthodox Church, Lent is called the season of bright sadness, because it is a time of simultaneous celebration and mourning. Unaware of this spiritual concept before reading The Little Way, I realized this was exactly what the current Lenten season had been for me and was reassured that I was on the right path. The book gave me the words to describe the climate of my heart, one of joyful mourning, knowing the hard decisions it was time for me to make and trusting that God would be present as I moved forward. With this knowledge, the joy and peace I expected to arrive at the end of the process entered into my period of darkness.

Now on this side of Easter, having walked through my darkness and made the hard decisions, my heart is changed. I am thankful for those that walked beside me – authors, family, friends –  listening to my frustrations, speaking words of encouragement, sharing hope. Through you I experienced God’s grace.

As I emerge from this bright sadness into a new beginning, I am hopeful of what is to come. May this blog also bring a new life to my passion for preservation, Louisiana culture, and old-house living; there is a bright sadness in the process of bringing new life to old things.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

One thought on “A Bright Sadness

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