When I was a child and my grandmother died, I remember her coming to visit me in my dreams, and after that night, I would occasionally catch a whiff of her perfume -- a distinctive tea rose.
Last night as I fell asleep, I again found myself talking to my friend who passed away a few months ago. She has visited me in my dreams and even sent little signs of her presence. But last night, I seemed to hear her saying "I'm going now. Got to go rest."
She didn't visit me in my dreams last night, couldn't provide any insights that I asked for.
But this moring, I'm sitting here overcome by the smell of tea roses. Grandma Alice is near, providing her comfort. It's been a hell of a week and I've got a lot of stressful life situations going on -- and how I would love to curl up in her lap as I did as a child. I am not alone.
Is Grandma literally telling me to "smell the roses?" While I've had my moments of pessisimism, I've continually been given the grace to "keep on truckin" through very difficult circumstances. More commonly, I've become emotionally shut down as a way of protecting myself and those in my care until the storms have passed. Staying open to pain is difficult, but I've learned that I need to resist the impulse to shut down, and really feel my feelings -- even and particularly the unpleasant ones. When we bottle up our emotions, we only store it up and have to deal with it later — and it can affect every aspect of our physical, emotional and spiritual health. I think this is what Jesus really meant by turning the other cheek -- not that we should allow others to abuse us, but that when we are hurt by others we should acknowledge the hurt and feel it, rather than steel ourselves to it.
My brilliantly spiritual friend Crystal wrote a poem that I'd like to repost, when she was going through a difficult time with a friend. This poem helps me to remember to feel my feelings, and that we must meet each other in our woundedness, and offer each other roses to smell.
i pray for you
I pray for you.
You're trying to hurt me deeply from a space of your own deep
You're trying to protect yourself from me.
I pray for your woundedness.
I pray you may find wholeness.
I pray you walk that path that God ardently desires you to walk.
I pray that you can find happiness without me.
I pray that I can put myself aside,
My own shadows that instinctively want to react,
That I can embrace my little girl inside,
Tell her I won't be harmed by you,
Tell her God and I are protecting her, and
Let God's strength strengthen me.
I know that you hold deep secrets to the love of God,
And I thank you in advance for that.
I pray that I may learn God's secrets by loving you
And in turn learn how to love God more.
I pray for your best,
For your peace.
- Crystal Chan