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Embrace the Fullness in this Turning Season

Our family woods hold many memories for me. It was a place of inspiration and reflection, adventures and campfires, joy and sorrow. Each fall, I brace myself as the sunflowers there begin to bud. Their image reminds me of grief, pain, and loss. The sunflower transports me to funeral bouquets for both of my parents. My grief has tainted their image. It has been 17 years, and still I find a sadness that veils my days. Grief is a mysterious journey. Both my parents died in our woods. Their ashes are sprinkled there.

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”
— Old French Proverb

On one of my walks in the woods, I crossed the creek to the back side of our highest hill (we called it Pike’s Peak). The hillside was eroding, and the trees leaned with their roots exposed. It was the ugliest place in our woods. As I reflected, I began to see the hillside as a gift, a place to be in touch with and name brokenness. A safe space to confess when we have lost our footing or slipped into poor choices. At first, I wanted to find a way to restore the hillside – to fix it. But the longer I sat, the more I saw the value of owning the painful, scarred parts of life, to uncover what those difficult times could teach me.

The veil lifted this fall. I embraced the sunflowers, still reminded of my parents. But the sunflowers shone bright and fresh. And they reminded me of sunshine, light, and hope.

In these months of a pandemic, civil unrest, and the recent destruction from West Coast wildfires, life has been filled with grief and gratitude, challenge and opportunity. Embracing the fullness of both pain and joy has helped me see life as whole and holy. Grief and gratitude are two sides of one coin.

In this season of turning, may you too find hope and gratitude as we remember that life is what comes from death.

So You Can Be Well

  • What pain or grief do you continue to carry?
  • What loss are you ready to let go of?
  • Consider expressing your emotions in a healthy, creative manner. You might dance, paint, draw, write…
  • What has transformed from loss to opportunity? From grief to gratitude?
  • What images hold emotions for you?

Deacon Tammy L. Devine

Tammy shares her passion for health, healing, and wholeness through consulting, coaching, and retreat facilitation. As an ELCA deacon, registered nurse, parish nurse/coordinator, and ICF certified coach, she collaborates with thought leaders to facilitate personal and communal growth toward living and leading well. Contact her to learn more.



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