Every person has a story. It is what it is.
In the next few minutes, you can either cruise along here, sum up this Modern Widows Club in a paragraph or two…. or you will read a little further with a bit more peripheral vision and discover what it looks like when one finds themselves on the fringe.
The fringe is when you feel disoriented at no fault of your own, when your situation precedes you, it’s when you are known and whispered about on the playgrounds or happy hours as ‘that woman who lost her _____‘. Often, your name comes shortly afterwards and that’s alright, we know we force people to imagine their worst nightmare. Financial security gone, helplessness around the house and the long lonely quiet nights. A quandary creeps into the air, we all feel it, but rarely does anyone acknowledge it. If they do, it’s followed by an uncomfortable on-going apology like credits at the end of a movie. Sigh. Please, make it stop!!
Until…… you meet another widow who just ‘gets it‘. When it clicks it clicks. That’s how it feels at MWC.
MWC began after a surprising realization and a very innocent conversation last year between two strangers. I needed some professional photos taken and Andi, being a talented photographer, somehow found her way inside my inbox. (Sometimes God uses our God Boxes, aka: Macbook as the messenger.)So, I jumped at the chance to get this task off my to-do list and emailed her back to set up a session within a few days. She arrived, so tall, so beautiful to photograph me. I, so short, so wise (that’s my way of saying older) to get this over with as soon as possible.
She agreed to email the photos later and instead by nightfall, I received this long email saying how she thought we had something in common. It turned out that we were both widows. She twenty something, me forty something. Smile.
Sitting in the bar at Ravenous Pig, Andi told me her story and I shared mine. She was in her 1st year and I was in my 11th year. I could see ‘me’ in her eyes and began to share a word of advice I wished someone had kindly shared with me in my first year. I told her she was wearing an invisible crown. A glorious crown that is only given to those who are chosen. Of course, none of us want to be chosen for this, but I explained that there will come a day when she will know beyond a shadow of doubt that she is loved so profoundly that God chose her for this journey.
I described a metaphor for her visualize. “The crown is the iron in which others would sharpen, so stay open to others like us and to all the love in the world. Then, as life presented obstacles and tribulations, beyond those experiences would come amazing insight, those were the jewels. Pick them up and place them on your crown” Only she knows how bright her crown is becoming but I assured her, the more jewels she picked up, the more reflective light she received and would eventually become light herself.
It was a radiant moment, she had never thought of her situation this way. She could only see it as ‘lonely’, not ‘lovely’. She turned to me and said ‘you must be the queen because you shine very bright’. I said ‘I didn’t in the beginning.’
In the book, ‘Broken Open’ by Elizabeth Lesser she talks about this journey. “If we are not willing to confront the truth about ourselves that a loss unearths, we squander a rare and precious opportunity for transformation. Our grief, while deeply felt, runs the risk of becoming a sentimental escape from the most meaningful part of the journey. If we do the hard work of a Phoenix Process, when we lose someone we love- then we find ourselves blessed with more love than we ever knew existed.” In a beautiful poem called “As I Walked Out One Evening”, W. H. Auden expresses what is the essence of the Phoenix Process.
“O stand, stand at the window
As the te ars scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your crooked heart.”
A heart made crooked through loss and change is a heart that can love the world and its less than perfect people. A woman who lost her husband in the OK City bombings writes, “It is so awful what happened, but it’s a different life for me now. It’s a deeper life. A life of connection to people on a more real level.” This is a process that will reshape your heart and lead you into a deeper life. MWC is on spot with our workshops to lead you there. Are you ready?
So when you see the crown above ‘Modern Widows Club’, know we see your crooked crown and what it means. We’re not in Kansas anymore! Or Oklahoma City, or New York City or New Orleans or…………
As we go forward, we go straight to the heart of love; love for those we lost and love for the life we do have now. In the end, Carolyn and Andi have become great support for each other and now with MWC ladies. Sitting in Starbucks, the crazy idea came for MWC. What else are we suppose to do? We just had to make this happen. So now our journey together begins, Carolyn wishes she was taller and Andi wishes she was shorter, but together we make the best of what we are given; this life that God has given us to grace others with our sovereignty.
- The Queen, Carolyn