19 December 2016 Entry: "Generosity"
doesn’t mean giving lots of expensive presents - it means generous with yourself.
You don’t always get a chance to say the things you want or think you should say to someone. With Julia, I managed to say both - I apologised for all the times I must have whinged and annoyed her! and I got to say goodbye. That was because Julia was so generous and gave space for people to approach her, she opened up herself and acknowledged she was dying, so we could share in it.
In a New Yorker article Patti Smith wrote
“When my husband, Fred, died, my father told me that time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them.”
She found this to be true - and the tools are ourselves. The pain is a well inside that gets topped up with every new loss and sadness - we draw on it for empathy and learn to understand others’ suffering. When you’ve had pain, you try not to judge other people’s behaviour so harshly, to make assumptions about their actions and motives. If you open yourself up, then you give others the space to drop their defences and admit their worries or anger, and that leads the way to forgiveness - both self-forgiving and forgiving of others - and allows a change of behaviour.
Christmas is an especially difficult time when we’ve lost someone or have family difficulties; the spotlight is on ‘happy families’ full strength, throwing into relief all that might be wrong with our own.
Our little blended family, with its missing loved ones, and its complicated relationships, is full generous tolerance, we make it work. Modern life fractures us and love is the plaster cast that knits us back together. My grandson loves his new brother and says he has ‘two daddies’. And I adore my new grandson, who has three Nanas. I feel lucky.
Even if we stumble, like Patti Smith, it serves to show our human frailty, and if we acknowledge that, it makes us stronger, not weaker. This sounds like a sermon, I don’t mean to preach. But like the lyrics of A Hard Rain’s A’Gonna Fall - What’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it