I was searching for a specific handout for a workshop I was developing and ran across 5 others on various topics but did not find the handout I was seeking! Murphy’s law? Perhaps.
Among those 5 other handouts, was a collection of poetry for times of loss and grief from an in-service for pastoral care work I participated in several years ago. I glanced through a couple poems but one grabbed my attention because of the title – In Praise of Sadness.
In Praise of Sadness Fr. Robert Morneau Is happiness overvalued, this life of jolly contentment? And is sadness a disease, afflicting all who experience loss? Though the great St. Paul preached rejoicing always, he knew great sorrow and constant anguish. Though Abraham Lincoln enjoyed the state, his melancholy never left him. Does the happy hour eradicate life’s weariness? Is there no room for the sad hour, when one embraces the losses of life? I pause to praise sadness, a significant component of the human condition, a catalyst for change, a gateway into compassion. Sadness may even be the cause for greatness as Lincoln, van Gogh, and Beethoven knew.
It had not occurred to me that sadness should be praised. It should be welcomed as part of our human condition. Pema Chodron wrote years ago in her book “When Things Fall Apart” about leaning in to things. For me, it made me understand that I don’t have to dive in headfirst into sadness in order to solve it or fix it. Tenderly leaning in with compassion and understanding is what is needed.
This poem reminded me of the yin/yang of life. Accepting sorrow, melancholy, uncertainty is yin receptivity while rejoicing and celebrating are more yang in their active nature. Fr. Morneau reminds me that greatness came from the depth of sadness. How different would our lives be without the Gettysburg address, the swirling blue of a starry night or the grandeur of the 9th symphony?
Sadness, melancholy, grief, loss, uncertainty and anxiety may be the fertile ground for creativity and greatness.
Grateful for insight. Grateful for all human emotions. Grateful for All.
(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting or can be done via Zoom or other virtual platform. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me to schedule an informational workshop. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for prayers, vibes, positive energy and support.)
One thought on “In Praise of Sadness”
Well said, Christy. Thanks for sharing the poem.