In my life more broadly, not just in my marriage, there have been some very big sorrows; some very difficult things to come to terms with. Previously my experience with pain, disappointment, distress is that it can ( or certainly initially does) make me harden. I adopt the brace position. I tighten up every muscle so that it all holds together against the impact.
This time I’ve felt it’s been softening me. I don’t have any other words for it. It’s surprised me, but it’s felt better than on previous occasions.
And then in the past couple of days I’ve read some things which have framed it for me using the imagery of sculpture or stone masonry. I’m grateful to the words of both Rob Bell in ‘Drops like Stars’ and Gene Edwards in ‘The Inward Journey’.
Bell points out that in sculpture, the beautiful thing we end up with was there all along. The sculptor’s skill was in uncovering it. Knowing what to remove to reveal it.
Edwards talks about the process of hewing a stone from rock, and then firstly using blunt instruments to shape it approximately, before more finessed chiselling improves its shape. Once the shape is right both coarse and fine sanding occur before finally it is polished and finished.
I feel I’m being sculpted by life. Not diminished. Not reduced. But uncovered.
I think I’m still at the very blunt tools, approximate shape stage, but I am very aware that this is not a harsh process. I don’t feel as if the bad is being chipped away, more that layers are being removed.
The inessentials are going. The parts that should remain are starting to be seen more clearly.
This is not punishment. This is refinement. Uncovering.