“Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.”
Today is the day of saudade. I only came across this word last summer, but it’s a useful one to know if you ever need to group together the feelings of loss and nostalgia and happiness and pain that come when you think of someone who you loved but lost. It is a Brazilian word and although many languages have an equivalent, English does not. So saudade it is.
I like the fact that in Brazil this emotion is honoured with a whole day to itself. Of course, as anyone knows who has felt saudade, it doesn’t limit itself to a single day each year.Just as relationship with a person leaks through all the layers of your life as you grow to know them and love them more and more, this emotion is provoked in many ways. Music, pictures, words, food, drink, jokes, thoughts, places frequently trigger saudade for me.
I have been anticipating the day of saudade for a while now and it has caused me to reflect on what, as a Jesus follower, I should think about my saudade when it comes. I am currently grieving a loss, but I am also trying to live life in the present. Saudade can have a paralysing effect on the present, and living in that sadness isn’t good. Last weekend I woke from a dream and the saudade was there. It affected the whole day. At times I have to confess that I want to wallow in it, and fleetingly experience the feelings of happiness again. However at its core is sadness. Always.
This is where ‘Hope’ comes in . My word for the year. The bible talks of having hope in things to come. So on this day of saudade, I will allow myself to feel the sad, and the loss, but I won’t waste my emotional energy and my present living, wishing for life to be as it was. At least I will try not to. Instead, with my eyes fixed on Jesus I will be glad of what I had, even though it is now felt as loss, and I will look forward to whatever is to come as I head down that path.
I know that people are reading this, but I’d really love you to add your thoughts and comments too! I hope that you will make this a conversation.