angel Lately I’ve wanted to grab the world by its axis and give it a good shake. In the South, there is an old expression I remember my mama saying, “I would like to shake some sense into so-in-so”. Yet as much as I’d like to, I cannot shake sense into anyone without a likely assault charge. No, if we are to live in this world, we must take the world as it is. And the world is a hard and difficult place.

How do we cope with life’s frustrations and difficulties? If we live our lives in pursuit of the truth, we can survive anything, even death. But what is Truth? As human beings, is it possible for any of us to gain the perspective needed to discern what the truth actually is? I think not. I believe Truth is simply too elusive and too big a concept for us to comprehend. I believe Truth is the part of us where God lives. I believe we exemplify Truth by saying ” I hear you” and “I accept you” even when I don’t understand you. Truth is compassion, not only for ourselves but for every single person in the world, even our enemies. Without the pursuit of Truth, our whole lives are a struggle.

I grew up in a family who never had this type of conversation. In my family, there were many sides to truth but only one side professed to be right. My family was not “bad people”, only flawed like the rest of us and too wrapped up in the drama of their individual struggles to pause to be philosophical. It recently occurred to me that I never remember hearing my mother saying she was sorry to anyone. I recall my father saying it to my mother over and over, but it seemed less like the profession of any truth as it was a mantra of appeasement. I fit into that world through adaptation, changing myself like silly putty into whatever person I thought they needed me to be in order for me to survive. I told myself stories which might or might not have been true to explain their dysfunction and to find a way to function in a world where so much seemed broken and so little made sense. I never imagined having enough power to “shake some sense into it”; I only wanted to be very small and plan my escape.

In the wisdom of my older years, I became thankful because I came to realize how this difficult experience opened a new door for me. A crack of light came into a scared and dark place and it gave me a glimpse of Truth. I experience it in fleeting moments. It often sits close with me when I am writing. It is nearly impossible to practice every day or to summon when needed. My heart is not nearly so light as I would like for it to be and yet I am grateful for the little shaft of Truth, which may not always provide great illumination but casts very good shadows.

Of course it is not only through trials that we find the illumination to help us along the path towards wisdom and truth. If we are fortunate, we find people as well. They are there like angels at all places and stages of life. They are sometimes our spouses, best friends, aunts and uncles, our children, grandparents and beloved pets. They love us sometimes unconditionally and sometimes only just as much as they are able.

What a surprise it is to discover that WE are the illumination for others. There we, in all of our perfect imperfection, somehow manage to help others on their paths. That’s when things really come full circle and when life becomes so rich and so beautiful. That’s when we realize that all our experiences, the good, bad, hateful and loving, all come together to form such a blessing. All such a complex and often difficult means to a good end.

Tonight, I am so sad. A person I love so much is very ill. I can only imagine the world without her as a much darker place for myself and most especially, her family. It pains me to tears when I think about how to live my life forward from the point she is no longer here on this earth. She has taught me and helped me and loved me. She has encouraged me as a woman and as a writer and artist. She has reinforced the importance of family. Helped me find strength to stand up when I’ve needed to. How she has seen so deep inside me into my very Truth and did not find me so unsatisfactory, even as she saw my heart that is deeply flawed and not so brightly illuminated and said ” I want to be like you.”

While death is the end, it is also the beginning for everyone touched by that death as they must learn to live anew in a world that for a while will make no sense. I feel very inept at keeping up my arc of the circle of life. But I am blessed to know that Love wins and life has a way of moving gloriously forward, even as I limp along in my flawed and wobbly gait.