Thursday, March 9, 2017

#SOL17: Beginnings

Cliffs of Moher (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

“Tus maith leath na hoibre.”*  Irish Blessing


A friend sent me, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue. It has become important, as it is so wise and I am in need of such wisdom. O'Donohue writes,
Beginnings often frighten us because they seem like lonely voyages into the unknown. Yet, in truth, no beginning is empty or isolated...Goethe says that once the commitment is made, destiny conspires with us to support and realize it...A beginning is ultimately an invitation to open toward the gifts and growth that are stored up for us. To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect.
The last line stays with me. Lingers. To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect. 


I have been waiting.
Even when I did not think that could be true, I have been waiting.

Waiting to hear the sound of Rob's footsteps as he climbed the flight of stairs from the garage like he did for 14 years.
Waiting for someone to explain how my husband could die so quickly, so young.
Waiting for breath to return that isn't tinged with pain.
Waiting for time to rewrite itself.
Waiting for God to come down from heaven and apologize.
Waiting for solace to rename this grief.
Waiting for my heart to restart.
Waiting, like those women who lean their elbows on windowsills and dream of other places, other times.


Edward Said told us that we are often well past beginning when we are able to name it as so. I closed my dissertation with that observation. How could I know that I would embody it so fully 20 years later?

I am well past the beginning.

*"A good beginning is half the work.” 


  1. Oh my goodness. I am so sorry for your loss. A dear friend of mine also lost her husband of over a decade in a tragic and unforeseeable ski accident. It has been through her children and her friends and her effort to build a wonderful life for herself without him that she has gone on. But she misses him every day and many times throughout each day. I, like you, am in need of wisdom. You sharing your pain and loss is a generous gift in my learning to listen, pay attention, and be grateful for what is right this minute. I will be rereading your post many times over the next few days- there is much to be mined there.

  2. The wisdom of Said - so true, beginning starts with being able to name the process, to be ready to conceive of the process. It is marking an acceptance, too, I think.

  3. When I was much younger, before I had graduated from anything, I thought "commencement" was the ending. I have never forgotten the shock when I realized it meant to begin. Perhaps all endings are really beginnings. O'Donohue's words are spot on: "To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect." Thanks for posting, Mary Ann.

    1. I love your statement that maybe all endings are really beginnings. There is much truth in that statement.

  4. A good beginning is half the work. I think you are more than halfway to that beginning.

  5. The solitude offers so much time to think, at least after the first furious weeks, and by the time more weeks have come and gone and more tasks have been completed, one realizes that life without our loved one has begun. As Said wrote, as you confirmed, the beginning is over. Sometimes it feels like a kind of sad resignation, but other times I feel like I'm glad that part is over. Thanks for these thoughts, Mary Ann.


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