Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sharks, Loss and Snowflakes

Remember that story about the girl from Hawaii who had her arm bitten off by a shark? I realized today that I feel like that girl. I'm missing parts of myself. Every loss, big and small, has taken a piece out of me, until I'm like a paperdoll with tattered arms and legs, missing feet, rips and gouges. I'm no longer whole, no longer unrumpled.

And I'm not the only one. I thought of my friend whose baby died last year, just two weeks before her due date. My husband called at dinner time to let me know he'd be late because just five minutes before he arrived for a scheduled home visit, the fifty-year old woman he was to visit died. I thought of 2-year old child I know whose parents are divorcing. It seems that everywhere I turn, people are facing loss, some small, some heartbreakingly enormous.

We have all lost someone or something irreplaceable. All of us, everyone. We all have holes and gaps and empty gaping wounds. Loss is part of life from the moment we come squalling into this cold world, having lost the safety of the only warm place we've ever known.

The vacant spaces define us. I saw myself primarily as a child of divorce for many years. And when the pain of that began to fade, I lost my dad for good when he died just a couple weeks after he turned 47. I was 24. Then I became a girl without a dad.

I became a woman who could not get pregnant. I became the writer who could not get published. I became the lonely outsider in a small town. What I didn't have framed me, rather than what I had, what I accomplished, what I was. Do we all try to hide the wounds and disguise our empty spots, while we secretly despair over the ripped out parts in our lives? Or is it just me?

This morning, when I contemplated myself as destroyed paperdoll with missing chunks, the unbidden image of a paper snowflake fluttered into my mind. I realized that the missing parts, the losses, the empty spots are part of a greater design. Look at the snowflake. The cut out parts don't destroy it. The scissored out triangles and circles enhance the beauty of the snowflake. They make it what it is.

When I think now of the empty spaces in myself, I won't concentrate on just the ragged scars. I'll see a snowflake, shaped by loss, but not destroyed. The losses feel random and unfair sometimes, but I have faith that God has a plan, an intricate, one-of-a-kind design for my life.

I'm not the holes in my life. I am wholly in the hand of a loving Creator. I am whole, despite the missing pieces.

Posted by Hello


Blogger Square1 said...

This... is beautiful.

It also reminds me of another story. If you take a clay jar, break it, and then take scotch tape and take it back together, you may feel like you have a pretty lousy clay jar. But when you shine a flashlight into it, where does the light shine through?

Our many cracks, chips, and holes that we acquire as earthen vessels bumping down the road of life, are exactly where the light of God is most apparent to others who see us.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Marykay said...

Again, wow. Thanks.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Wash Lady said...

Hmmm.....I love this piece and sorely needed the message today. I guess that makes us all a bunch of beautiful snowflakes, huh?

4:49 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

wow. Wow. WOW. WOW!!

This has interested me for years now and caused me to wonder if we in the Christian community are too eager to 'heal' people. Just let Christ be what pours out of the wound.

The poet Ruth Pitter says "Alleluia, all my gashes cry."

Deep stuff. My gashes tend to cry "Please don't let anyone discover how grossly inadequate I am!"

Sign me on as another 'flake'!

5:31 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

Something interesting to think about today...Oh, and I think it is definitely NOT just you who tries to disguise the empty spots...

6:10 AM  
Blogger Ozfemme said...

Thank you for that. It is exactly what I needed to read at this point. Thank you!

5:29 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Mel- I'm developing a message for a ladies retreat. It is all about the beautiful intricacy of snow crystals (flakes) and God's beautiful creation. Please take a look at these photos to see just how beautiful a snowflake can be. And, to continue the metaphor: the most beautiful are the ones with the most "cuts."

6:05 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Excellent insight, Mel.


6:52 PM  
Blogger QQ said...

Beautifully never fail to amaze me.
Oh and for alittle fun....

9:10 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Maybe you can't get published, but you *are* a writer. Once again, your metaphors are astounding.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Mel, I'm another one who "needed" to read this post and be reminded of the message. Thanks.

Love your blog. ♥

9:57 AM  
Blogger J. said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. It touched my heart.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Cuppa said...

Hi Mel

I came to your blog through Anvilcloud and am enjoying your writing. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful insights. This last post was so meaningful to me and I just had to write and tell you so.

When we are ripped apart and bleeding it is hard to breath, let alone see past the pain to any beauty in our lives. Your words pointed us to that beauty in such a stunning way. A snowflake. I absolutely loved it.

Sometimes the designer?s scissors are so sharp and have no mercy as to what they cut away, and as hurtful as those precise scissor cuts are, they are nothing compared to the unexpected shark attacks that sideswipe us and rip and tear without warning. After one of those attacks, we are left bleeding in the open water and if it weren?t for the tender mercies of others we wouldn?t survive. What a gift to be wrapped in those bandages of the love of others and be soothed by the balm of their compassion.

Afterwards, long afterwards, we can say that we wouldn?t change the shark attack for anything. We wouldn?t want it to happen again, but we wouldn?t change it either. The triangles and circles do enhance the beauty of the snowflake and make it what it is. We are whole and beautiful in spite of the holes in our lives. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful word picture with us.

I sent your blog to my sister who is still struggling (after 11 years) with the grief of losing her 5-year-old daughter. I am meeting a friend this week who just lost her dad. I am going to share your words with her too.

I absolutely love the winter and enjoy a good snowstorm. Now, thanks to you, I have another reason to treasure the snow. I will think of the beauty of my ?designer? life each time I see a snowflake and rejoice. Thanks Mel.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

What an interesting post -- and what a wonderful revelation you had about snowflakes. It's beautiful.

In an odd way, I have always felt that my holes made me who I am today -- and I have actually been thankful for a few of them. I never looked at the negative side of them before.

However, life does pick at you and wear you down. I feel it too. The lies I see other people tell on a constant basis sadden me, and drain me even when I, myself am happy.

I always feel so affected by the pain of those around me that it often quelches my own happiness.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Brandie said...

You have such an amazing ways with words! Really ... the snowflake analogy is absolutely beautiful. I will try to remember that next time I am feeling down.

7:50 PM  

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