Lately I’ve been sad. As I write this reflection Russia continues to invade Ukraine.  Images of men, women, babies, and children are imprinted on my mind.  Lent is nearing and will be already underway by the time you read this reflection.  I sense my own uneasiness and collective sadness around the coming months as they are tied to church abuse.  I miss my daughter.  She is preparing for her first art show since college.  I think of her putting finishing touches on the art that will hang at a bakery in her small town in Alaska.  I imagine her sparkling eyes at the reception.  I can’t be there.  Yesterday, my husband and I drove an hour north to see my parents.  It’s hard to witness dementia progressing in my dad and see my mom worry about their future.  I feel sad.

In a conversation with a friend, I admitted my sadness.  We talked about the heaviness of life and the heaviness around us.  I declared to my friend, There is too much heaviness! I will write a light-hearted reflection for St. Anthony’s.  I tried that, for hours and for days.  It didn’t work.

Sadness is a part of the human condition.  Sometimes sadness needs outside intervention.  Sometimes we just need to be sad.  Some never find their way out of sadness.  At times, sadness lifts unexpectedly.

I don’t have a medical background.  I cannot diagnosis or treat sadness or depression.  I cannot fix my sadness.  I cannot fix your sadness.  I am getting better at sitting with my sadness, sitting with others who are sad, and sitting within collective sadness, sadness around a common condition or situation. 

What I have found, is that when love wraps itself around sadness, when we can nestle into love, and when love enters sadness by its own fruition, sadness changes.  Sadness moves with the injection of love.  Tears may fall.  Arms may reach.  We might set aside time to nurture our self.  We might reach to another.  We may be moved to action.  Sometimes when we feel a collective sadness, that is, when our sadness joins with the sadness of others and is infused with love, we are moved to compassion and to just action.  Positive local and global movements are often sparked by emotion.

Ignoring sadness or painting over it with happy faces might fool others but it doesn’t fool sadness.  Sadness wants attention, recognition, to be listened to, and sometimes to be expressed.  Sadness can teach us to care for ourselves and to care for others if we are patient with it.

So be patient with your self in times of sadness.  Set aside time to care for yourself.  Reach out if you need help with your sadness.  Cry if you want to.  Speak out or be silent for a while.  Nestle into love when you can. 

– Kathy Walczyk