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photo by Tom Burke – Flickr

Loneliness. Life involves times of loss, times when we find ourselves alone with our memories. If you’ve lost a loved one—a mother or father, a spouse, or a child—you know that loneliness can wear at you and tear at you. This kind of loneliness is described in the guest post below, written by my father. He describes his feelings after my mother died.

In sorting through a box of old things, I recently came across this poem I wrote a few months after my first wife passed away.
~ ~
~ ~
The edge of loneliness
Wears at me,
Tears at me,
Wearies me.
Memories of shared moments
Leave me with emptiness.
Laughter of the past
Echoes in the empty rooms of my empty heart.
Fires kindle momentarily
With love’s memory
Then subside
Like burned out coals upon the cold hearth.
A chill creeps over me
As winter winds blow gusty
Against my quavering soul.
Brown fallen leaves
Careen with death rattle along the street,
And my spirit dries and
Blows with them into the gutter.
I feel passed up, unwanted,
Unremembered, unloved.
 ~ ~ ~
About the same time I wrote this poem, I took a walk on a beach in Oregon near my home. I picked up a piece of driftwood in the shape of a whale. One side even had an “eye.” I took it home with me and wrote on a scrap of paper: “The fury of storm and tide has made me what I am.” And, “I am what I have had the good fortune of becoming.”
~ ~
I didn’t understand it right then, but much like the processes of water, wind and sand on that driftwood, the grief process was
re-shaping me. Perhaps the psalmist felt lonely and forsaken when he said, “Out of the depths have I cried unto You.” Then there’s Jonah in the darkness, helplessness, and isolation of the whale’s belly. When Jonah came out, he became one of the most successful preachers of all time. As a result of his ministry, a whole city repented and turned to God.
~ ~
Someone said, “When bad things happen to good people, they
become better people.” Of many an older saint it could be said,
“Once young and carefree, now buffeted into a work of art.”
~ ~
So what is your ocean, and what are you becoming? Sculptured by time and the elements, a thing of beauty? Then someday you can say, “The fury of storm and tide has made me what I am.”
~ ~
~G. H. Cummings

G.H. Cummings is a 92-year-old retired pastor and counselor. He is the author of Making It In Marriage : It’s Worth the Effort (Cladach, 2002). This post is excerpted from his e-book, I Was Just Thinking, available as a free download (pdf) here.