I was catching up with a dear friend today, who told me a story. She'd made the decision to invite some family members who'd been estranged to come by for a visit. Her philosophy was simple: she said, "You know, everyone needs a soft place to land from time to time."
Her comment struck close to my heart. Just coming off the death of my mother in June, I understood that need in a whole new way. Grief is a living and breathing thing. Like a sleeping lion keeping watch over a person's memory, it can appear as peaceful as a kitten cuddled in sleep. But it can rise unexpectedly with a fury which can send one scattering to find shelter from its dangerous claws. And then... again... it sleeps. Those who experience losses of many kinds tiptoe through this minefield of grief. A soft place to land is a coveted wish for those on that journey.
But how do we provide that safe place to land for those who have experienced loss? And just what kinds of loss qualify for grieving? To even begin to try to answer these questions is to understand how great a need there is today for soft places to land. Grief can visit with the death of a loved one, the loss of a family bond or relationship, the death of a pet, or the loss of a job. The loss of health, aging, the loss of mobility, the loss of memory, and the loss of self-esteem all invite grief to the doorstep. Grief can join hands with the loss of faith, friendship, ideals, or fellowship. Disappointment and longing can welcome grief as well. Today's world seems limitless in its capacity for loss which invites grieving.
Yet thankfully, the remember for the depth of opportunities our world provides for grieving is a simple one. It is easy to remember: no act of love is ever wasted. Each act of love which is expended for and extended to a person experiencing loss feathers the nest of that soft place to land. It need not be extravagant or time consuming on the part of the giver: a phone call, a knowing glance, a smile exchanged, a memory shared, or a cup of coffee brought to one's desk bring that soft landing place. Soft landing spaces are created by time spent and hearts that listen, shoulders offered to cry upon, cards or flowers sent, or that simple text message with an emoji which brings a laugh. Soft landing spaces come of a simple presence, a walk in the woods, or a wildflower presented in a budvase. All acts of love which feather the nest.
From time to time, we all need a soft place to land. When your time comes, don't underestimate your need for the feathered nest. Learn to receive graciously.
And when it is not your time to rest, and all is well with your soul, do not forget this simple and powerful antidote for loss: no act of love is ever wasted.