Friday, March 2, 2012

On anger and healing


Last fall I had been feeling sustained anger for weeks. Understanding that it is a part of the grieving process and being comfortable with it though -- two different things. It does not feel good to have that unresolved anger. And where does it resolve when you can't put your finger directly on the source. In my discomfort and unresolved emotions I turn to books more often than not. I've shopped books on grieving, crafting, curing worry, and dogs. Finally though, it wasn't books that brought some healing relief to cool the heat of anger. Music became a great instigator and healer in the process as well. Hearing a particular song at the "right" moment can trigger a strong reaction.

During this bout of negative emotion last fall, I participated in our college choir alumni event along with my sister. Our former choral director, Jack, returned along with a number of former choir members who were part of the concert choir in the 1980s. As it happened, the director's father died a year prior to the month in which we gathered. In my limited experience Jack has always chosen music carefully for both its musical challenge and its beauty. In this instance I believe that Jack also gave equal weight to the healing properties inherent not only in each piece and in how each piece fit together as a whole performance. Exactly what you would expect from someone who works with ensembles. And an admitted perfectionist.

Rehearsal for the five musically challenging repertoire was on Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon with our performance on Saturday evening.

When I Hear Music
Amazing Grace
O Sifuni Mungu
Farewell
Homeland

The Amazing Grace that we performed is an arrangement that includes the lyrics, "my chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood his mercy rains unending love, amazing grace." And like a flood wall breaking, my anger came out. Unembarrassed, I let it flow out of me in tears as the words and notes flowed from my mouth. How could I be embarrassed or angry about expressing what so clearly appeared to be words that Dad wanted me to hear. What other words can describe his current state. The chains of this world had tightened a hold on him more and more in the years prior to his death. And his last moments in this world seemed to epitomize the physical agony imposed on him throughout his entire life. How could I not be angry for that agony and rejoice in the mercy of his ransom into unending love.

Grief has still not made its final appearance. Nor do I expect it to. I do however, find more love and less anger in that space in my heart. And it's much lighter to carry.