Pema Chödrön often mentions “the gap” in her dharma teachings. It is something that takes us out of our everyday mind and into spaciousness. The gap can be many things, a sudden startle, a trip, a sneeze. Anything that snaps us out of everyday mind and into a moment of openness. Our thinking mind stops for a moment and is empty. It is brief, usually, this kind of gap.
Change is also a gap, whether positive or negative change. Everything is fresh when it is positive change, our hearts are lifted and all of our senses attenuated. The world is a wonder. We are energized, our bodies feel light and movement seems effortless. Negative change, with the associated grief, is a different experience. Food loses its taste, scents seem absent, raising your arms and legs can feel almost impossible. Fatigue without restorative rest becomes the norm.
We all face gaps. They are innumerable when you start noticing them. Learning to live comfortably with gaps is a constant practice because by their nature they challenges us. Relaxing into not knowing can be frightening. We like plans, we like knowing what to expect. It is comfortable to know what lies ahead. In reality though, we only have this moment, this breath and while we predict (with varying degrees of accuracy) what will come next, the very unpredictability of life is what adds to its richness, its complexity.
Even as I mourn the first year without my son, the return of bird songs not heard in months fills the dark morning. Another gap, a surprise, a change. Grief adds deep meaning to life. Loss is a reminder of how precious each moment of our brief life is.
Years of preparation could not prepare me for the magnitude of Dan’s loss. It often feels unendurable, this gap. Without a map, and with only my broken heart for a compass, I must navigate this terrain so rich with beautiful memories and so empty of his physical presence.
May I find strength and grace as I stumble over briars, and look tenderly upon the delicate young blooms that are all a part of this. May I find the courage to navigate this gap in order to help others. May the deep, endless love for my darling Daniel, provide me with the compassion and understanding to serve others.