Everything is Revealed by Highlights and Shadows

I originally wrote this post one year ago, after the Boston Marathon bombings. This Monday, the Marathon runs again. In the intervening year, there have been, worldwide, more bombings, more acts of terrorism and aggression, more unrest. Sometimes it seems like the shadows are taking over. But the beauty of being human is that we can decide what we want to believe. And then we can believe it. I still choose to believe that a million lights of kindness will cover the darkest acts of atrocity. And I always will.

Grief is linked, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, to the lung and large intestine organs and, like anger, fear, joy/sadness and worry, it plays a fundamental role in our health. Our lungs hold and distribute the oxygen that sustains life, so our inhalation is quite literally the act of taking in life.  When we exhale, we are letting go, in the trust that our next inhalation will come. Without this exhalation––this letting go with trust­­––we can’t take in another breath; we can’t take in more life.

It is the role of grief to facilitate the letting-go process. When we grieve, we are letting go of that which no longer serves us. Grieving is the process of sifting through the loss to discover the essence that we wish to carry with us. And then allowing the rest go, so we are able to take in another breath, to continue living.

This week I am grieving the lives lost and maimed at the Boston Marathon bombings and underneath that, I am grieving the awareness that there are people so separated from the basic heart of humanity, that to maim and kill innocent lives is, to them, an acceptable act. But my grieving has unearthed an essence in the tragedy, to wit: the darkest acts of atrocity are covered by a million lights of kindness. In Boston, people ran toward the bombing scene, seconds after it happened, to help, heedless of their own safety. Social media spontaneously sprang into action to coordinate emergency information.

Everything is revealed by highlights and shadows. We are moving forward as a species defined by our immense kindnesses in the wake of our isolated evils.


I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—

that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum

of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

excerpted from The Ponds by Mary Oliver

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0 thoughts on “Everything is Revealed by Highlights and Shadows”

  1. Thank you so much Deb! I’ve long realized that I grieve because of the turn my life took. But I never related it to my asthma — which was next to nothing until recently. It makes me feel like I can’t fully exhale… I’m attuned to most New Age and metaphysical things, but know very little about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thanks for a new direction for my research.
    And a bit of good news! I just got an interview scheduled for a job in the southwest!

  2. Thank you , and I’m happy you’ll be looking into TCM. Check out this website: http://www.futuremedicinetoday.com/aboutus.html Ka’imi teaches an interesting fusion of many modalities, with a strong emphasis on TCM (since that’s his background.) I’ve taken many seminars with him–loved them all. And glad to hear about the job interview in the southwest! Time to go home, perhaps?

  3. On, and I love this sentence:” When we exhale, we are letting go, in the trust that our next inhalation will come.” It reminds me of something I read about trapeze artists once.

  4. Deborah~ I love this: “the beauty and brutality of being” That is the human experience, or what the human experience should be. We need to FEEL our lives.

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