“If I were loved, as I desire to be”
If I were loved, as I desire to be,
What is there in the great sphere of the earth,
And range of evil between death and birth,
That I should fear,–if I were loved by thee?
All the inner, all the outer world of pain
Clear Love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine
As I have heard that, somewhere in the main,
Fresh-water springs come up through bitter brine.
‘T were joy, not fear, claspt hand-in-hand with thee,
To wait for death–mute–careless of all ills,
Apart upon a mountain, tho’ the surge
Of some new deluge from a thousand hills
Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge
Below us, as far on as eye could see.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
It was our wedding anniversary on Saturday and on that day I had a revelation. I had been pondering that ’emptier, fuller life’ and reflecting on the ever-present nature of loss, gaps, holes, empty spaces and disappointments in life. A part of my grief has been having a kind of insomnia for periods at a time. It’s not a tossing and turning with anxiety, or simply crying myself to sleep with the pain. It is a huge cloud of depression descending on me as I reflect on the pain and struggles of that day and feel the knowledge that I have to get up and face it all again the next day, overwhelm me. I feel empty and the darkness is oppressive.
How can we live a full life when that life is punctured by loss? When life does not go to plan? When there is pain and grief? It’s inevitable.
Well, when the holes are filled with grace. Grace we may not have turned to, needed, or noticed.
I reflected on this in relation to my marriage. The kind of love most crave in this world is you, me, forever. A commitment. Why? Because we all recognise the depth of love in that person who knows all our lack, our failings, our empty places and says ‘I love you anyway’. Six years in and I am not feeling the seven-year-itch as imminent. The loss I have felt this past year has in part been filled with an awareness that I have a husband who will bear with my bad days and serve me as best he can. The empty places in life, the failings of others, the lack we see in our work, family, Church, enables us to see grace that says, ‘I love you anyway.’ I don’t think I need to say that I wouldn’t wish loss and grief on anyone, we don’t hope for it – it is darkness. But I am grateful that there is always light. Good things can fill the holes so that we look back and say, ‘why wasn’t I doing this before?’ The freedom that comes from this is wonderful. Freedom to be care-free and face life without fear. To expect lack and know a goodness that can fill it. Forgiveness, love, help, sacrifice.
It’s grace – and it’s beautiful.