A powerful stranger

Grief, for me, is a feeling of being lost. On some days, I’m lost from myself. Other days, I’m lost from the world. Most days, I feel lost on my path.

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian from Northern Ireland. Pádraig’s favourite poem, Lost, by David Wagoner, is his connection to the notion of ‘being here now’. His two favourite lines from Lost are these:

Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.

Pádraig recites these lines in response to the sayings we so often here of ‘I wish things were different’, ‘I wish I were somewhere else’, ‘I wish this was not happening to me’. In exploring what a powerful stranger is, Pádraig says:

Powerful strangers might be benevolent, but only might. Powerful strangers can also be unsettling and troubling. And powerful strangers can have their own hostilities, and have their own way within which they cause you to question who you are and where you’re from. And that is a way within which, for me, the notion of saying hello to ‘here’ requires a fairly robust capacity to tell the truth about what is really going on. And that can be very difficult.

It made me think of my grief as being my powerful stranger. Of course I wish things were different, but I have to say hello to my grief every day. I cannot change that.

The powerful stranger that is my grief has made me question who I am. And it hasn’t been easy. But this is where I am now. Feeling a little lost some days. Feeling a bit more than lost other days. That’s my truth.

I often reflect on how many stories there are all around us about grief, and how I never heard these stories until I became the griever and the one in search of healing. To have a space where I can openly talk about my grief has helped me to understand this powerful stranger of mine. I can open it up, sit with it, and let whatever truth it is to just be in the here and now.

We all need to make room for our powerful strangers, whatever they may be for each of us. We are not here to try and change ourselves. We are here to meet ourselves where we are.