Saying Yes

July 22, 2009

Mystics of all faiths celebrate the fire that clears the landscape of the soul, preparing it for a direct encounter with divine love.  Spiritual seekers have embraced contemplative disciplines for millennia in the hope of finding a small glimpse of the emptiness that is plenitude, a single moment of the ego-melting that leads to union with the absolute.  Prior to the death of my daughter Jenny in 2001, I had spent decades in pursuit of that spiritual nakedness.

I have never encountered a more direct path to the undifferentiated awareness the mystics speak about than the journey of grief and loss.  Tragedy and sorrow can accomplish in a single moment what years of sitting on a meditation cushion may never yield: an unequivocal surrendering into the arms of the mystery.  There is no other place to go.

I am not unique.  In the years since Jenny died, I have encountered hundreds of people who have experienced the inexplicable gifts of grief and loss, and have dedicated themselves to cultivating, harvesting, and giving away that bounty.  This is the grace of radical unknowing the mystics speak about.  The terrible initiation of darkness and despair that strips our souls of everything that stands between us and the sacred.  The dying that happens when someone we love dies, shattering the container of our hearts.  The boundless love and gratitude that comes pouring into and through that broken open container.

I would never have willingly agreed to exchange the life of my daughter for the transformational grace that has come in the wake of her death.  I would gladly relinquish every shred of the increased aliveness and childlike wonder with which her death has filled my life, if it meant I could cuddle her close and sing her to sleep one more time.  At some point every day, I still hate that Jenny is dead.

Yet, I cannot deny the gift of being emptied and scrubbed and filled with the light the sages of every tradition throughout the ages have spoken of.  The boundless love expressed best in poetry and song.  The longing that takes away your breath only to fill you with a never-imagined vitality.  But only after you have surrendered completely to the darkness, to the fire, to the unraveling of all you ever thought you knew.  I have understood almost from the beginning that my only task is to say YES to that.

In this blog I will explore, through my own and others’ stories, how the journey of grief and loss can fill our lives with ever-expanding awareness, radiant vitality and unimagined joy.

9 Responses to “Saying Yes”

  1. Don Chestnut said

    This precious undertaking will lead to the salvation of many.

  2. Tania said

    Thank you for your beautiful words.

  3. Don Chestnut said

    Dearest Mirabai,

    I have just received your translation of Dear St. John’s “Dark Night”, and am so very much enjoying it. This work is much needed at the point in which the world finds itself, as it can be so confusing and confounding, that which is being activated and directed in one’s Soul–whose nature is FREEDOM. And the world situation (not only “personal” grief and loss) is bringing about these happenings in so many at this moment–and there is a way through it.

    It is amazing and ungraspable by the senses and “human-mind” that such sadness and grief could be borne by Divine Essence into our lives as a transforming agent and at the same time, the very same Essence (which is Love Itself) can and does enwrap us in the most profound, unexplainable and mysterious peace that could ONLY be the signature of the Divine ITSELF. This is a Grace and Power that is beyond “figuring out”, and must be met with the simple acceptance, awe and wonder that is due the very Present Power that actually appears as this very life present here and now. How could one go along with the urge to judge what is happening as BAD?

    There is a point at which we have tried everything of ourself, a point that we realize that all of it has come to no avail. This is when we pray–often without realizing it–that another take our hand and lead us, not where we want to go, but where we need to be. The surrender to this must be complete, with the greatest trust placed upon and in that which is doing the work, the very Saviour of our Soul, which (unbeknownst to so many) is within the Soul Itself. There is no need to search “out there”. In a sense–We are our own salvation–not of our body, mind and senses, but of the Essence of Life that beholds Itself at work in Itself and is able to REST in the satisfaction of knowing that all that we ever dreamed was possible is NOW taking place.

    Many thanks and Deep regards,

    All Love,

  4. Don Chestnut said

    Dearest Mirabai,

    It’s funny. We have so many false concepts that we try and clothe in ways that make them seem OK to ourself. We rationalize them in an attempt to make them “palatable”.

    It has become so very apparent to me, one such false concept, in operation here “in me” and it is in relation to the reply that I left above. It is the ancient concept of a “reward and punishing god”,a god that would visit boons and punishment upon one. In the light of “God, too pure to behold iniquity”, this just has never made sense–because it doesn’t and CAN’T. But its operation beneath consciousness is subtle.

    I noticed that I wrote “sadness and grief could be borne by Divine Essence into our lives as a transforming agent”. It is actually that Divine Essence IS ESTABLISHING ITSELF as One’s True Identity and all that is unlike Itself is being dissolved. The false-concepts that are being dissolved are our treasured sensual(in other words, “of the senses”)likes and dislikes and the tendency to seek one to blame(a “god” or another person)for taking away what “we personally” thought of as good is in direct relation to OUR OWN RESISTANCE to letting go of these false-concepts.

    These realizations are shocking! and, as you say in your translation (to paraphrase) when the sensual pleasures are not to be found and the soul is not yet attuned to the pleasures of the Divine, this period is very disconcerting. It is best to trust and rest in that trust, while not judging that what is happening is bad.

    Thank you for your work.

    All Love,

  5. What a beautiful, powerful Presence and Essence you are! Thank you for Being. I am moved to discover this lovely blog for the first time. I will return often!

    With love and blessings,


  6. Bev Roche said

    Dear Mirabai,

    I just discovered your blog today, and am so grateful. My beautiful son, 18 months old, died tragically a year ago. And I am still trying to find my way to the place where I can live with what is. It is wonderful to discover yourself, leading the way, with such eloquence and insight. Please keep writing and posting. I will return to this site often. Thank you.


    • Oh, my dear sister, Bev — I am so sorry for your terrible loss! What is your son’s name? I am holding him, and you, in my loving prayers. Thank you so much for reaching out. I am here.

  7. This is EXACTLY how I feel, and how I see this path. I feel your presence somehow, and your understanding. Thank you for writing this.

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