Author Archives: Jenny Sullivan

Again: On suffering, the gain of loss, and doing things again

Throughout the past week and a half, I’ve been suffering from frequent headaches. Or, more accurately put, I’ve been suffering from one continuous headache, which has shifted its shape, has ebbed and has flowed, but has not abated.

It’s easy to become discouraged when in perpetual pain, and discouragement is an understatement for how it has affected me at times. Instead of being able to read and write, my mind has been sluggish and slow; thinking hurts. Instead of being able to do, and feel value in doing, I’ve been forced of necessity to rest, to be content in being. Instead of seeking out the light, I hide from it – close the curtains, turn off lights, lament a sun-filled day.

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Unfinished Things

Sometimes I have this sense of being perpetually behind. It can be hard to account for – at times, the feeling arises when from external appearance I might seem to be doing well or exactly on schedule. Objective perspective might suggest things are fine, and yet I still have this feeling that I have not done enough, that I could have or should have done more.

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Dear Beloved: Other People’s Eyes

Dear Beloved,

You are trying to live from a place of confidence and trust, but habits long-formed continue to get in your way. Some of these are ingrained in your way of being and your way of thinking that you do not even notice when they take hold of you. Yet despite their subtlety, despite the “naturalness” of such practices, their impact runs deep. It shapes the manner in which you think about and see yourself.

One of these habits is your tendency to see yourself through other people’s eyes. When you think about your past, your current situation, or a particular choice you have made, you often think of what others would say. Sometimes this manifests itself in visualization. You see the face of someone you know and you hear their voice responding, speaking some brutally honest judgement of your decisions. But other times, this projection of other people’s thoughts is not so explicit. Instead of actively imagining a situation, you think like the other person. In a strange sense, you seek to enter into their mind, to break into the stream of their thoughts and then to be pulled along by the current.

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Begin Again

So I awake to fail again –
to think of futile goals I’ve made,
of time I did not mean to spend,
of moments I did not see fade,
of wounds to which I did not tend,
of paths where I should not have strayed,
of strangers who were would-be friends,
of empathy by self delayed,
of words unwritten, yet to send,
of love not given, plans mislaid

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Dear Beloved: Promised Land

There is no life so tattered or spirit so broken that God cannot use it for His good. You are still trying to hold onto your life and as you grip the edges with white slipping fingers, you find it still eludes your control. You blame yourself, you shame yourself, you look to the future and past, and ever before you as you close your eyes is the unfathomable void, the as-of-yet unarticulated disaster towards which you see your life heading. In this moment, you have a choice. You can continue to live hunched over, crippled under the weight of what you were never meant to bear. Or you can let go, acknowledge your own fallibility, and cling to another surer sense of security. 

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This Small Now

Only for this moment –
Can I love the face in front of me?
Only for a single breath –
can this be all I see:
these hopeful eyes,
this broken glance,
this thin disguise,
this fleeting chance
to be inside the given time,
to love a life that is not mine
and find
a beauty in
the preciousness of this
existence, person, moment, gift,
the sacredness of what-now-is

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Dear Beloved: Little Choices

Dear Beloved,

You are much stronger than you know. You know things that you have forgotten that you know. You have gone places where you have forgotten you can go. You are not as alone as you think you are. There are so many things about the real that your mind has gotten twisted, so many ways that your fears have taken hold of you and unseated your intuitions. 

You can trust yourself a little more. You can blame yourself less. Those places you were in the past – there was a reason for your being there and there was a reason for your being there then. But you are not there now. You are here. And there are gifts in this moment of which you are worthy. There is strength for this moment, which you can claim. You deserve to be happy. 

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