Overcome with Joy (Fall 2011)
I married my wonderful hunky Italian guy November 25. Our intimate fireside ceremony was even more beautiful than I imagined: candlelight, original love songs, close friends, spilled sand that helped our kids laugh in the midst. The coming together of a new family. We’ve traveled a long way on this journey in a relatively short time. Photos of the day prove I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. From the moment I walked into the room, hours before, my heart soared. I was present in every single moment, so aware of how blessed I am, how much in love I am, how incredibly wonderful life can be. My friend Julie summed it up perfectly; she said “it was a pleasure to see you so overcome with joy.”
There are few times in life we are truly overcome by our emotions.
In my darkest time, I felt a grief that strong. As Leif Enger writes in Peace Like a River : “Once in my life I knew a grief so hard I could actually hear it inside, scraping at the lining of my stomach, an audible ache, dredging with hooks as rivers are dredged when someone’s been missing too long.” I remember the day I finally acknowledged I was a widow, that my husband Bob was really dead and not coming back. I remember hugging my knees as I curled up in a corner and wept deep and heavy, feeling an aloneness I had never felt before. It has taken years to grow to a place where I feel joy thinking about our happy marriage and remembering all the good reasons I miss my dear friend.
That’s the interesting thing about life I guess. How one day we can feel grief as deep and unbreathable as the bottom of a dark and heavy ocean and another day feel joy as light and bright as the sun flying high above the clouds. And each day in between, perhaps because our hearts can only carry so much at once, we dip just a little bit into all of it.
The best writing I’ve ever read or written has come from a place of being overcome. It’s at the ends of the spectrum we often find what’s true and honest.
My son read me a comment from his confirmation student Bible the other night. It said: "What matters is not what we achieve but what we overcome to achieve it." I suppose the key is to first allow ourselves to be overcome so we can overcome. We can’t linger too long at the unbreathable ocean bottom of grief nor in the brilliant blinding light of joyous love. But allowing our hearts to experience it makes each day in between all the richer.
Allow yourself to be overcome. For just a moment. It will be a moment you’ll never forget.
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