A journey from trauma to authenticity
Discovering the Pearl Hidden in Failure and Loss
Discovering the Pearl Hidden in Failure and Loss

Discovering the Pearl Hidden in Failure and Loss


How we resist falling, failure, loss, illness, death. And yet it is inevitable, all around us, within us, and happens to us again and again throughout our lives. It is universal to the human experience.
Our first experiences of falling may be the loss of a pet, not being chosen for a team, failing in an exam. We all go on to experience bereavement, failing to meet our goals, redundancy, the empty nest, a divorce or separation, not living up to our own values, or rejection of some kind. We all fail, mess up or are excluded.
Sometimes these losses, transitions and challenges are of our own making and choice. Oftentimes they are not. We feel disempowered at the death we could not prevent, the job loss forced upon us, or the pandemic that imposed lock-down upon us. There are changes that we know are coming, such as mid-life, menopause, aging, children becoming adults and leaving, which are no less tricky to navigate for their inevitability.
We can flounder when we find we have lost a fundamental belief that previously gave us a sense of safety and worth in the world. What do we hold on to now, in the confusion and pain?
My little baby, that caused us to suddenly up sticks and move half way across the world, was born at the beginning of Autumn. Just three months before she was born, we had been fully immersed in hosting a church mission team, building houses for poor families, organising glasses for local school children, and running fun, creative, joy filled children’s clubs. It was summer; a time of busy productivity and purpose. As soon as I noticed her birth defect, that fateful afternoon, when I was preparing her for her bath, everything changed in an instant. Summer was over. Life and work as we knew it was over. And the changes were not of our choosing.

Having lived on the equator in an eternal summer for 13 years, I found myself walking my baby in her pram, up the hill behind the Scottish house we were now staying in, every day, beneath the ever-changing leaves on the trees that gracefully arched over the road. As I watched the leaves change from green to yellow, orange, brown and red, it was as if their message resonated with my confused and hurting heart. The season of green productivity was over for now. And yet, in the dying process, the true colours of the leaves could emerge.

And it was beautiful.

I opened my heart to the process of letting go. That is the invitation this week.

A Sunset Practice

In Autumn, the evenings draw in with each day that passes. As the sun sets, there are often beautiful colours and hues to behold. Darkness then enfolds us, but we know that the night will pass and the sun will rise again.
The sun falls gently and silently. Sometimes the colours are soft and muted. Other evenings, they blaze with awe-inspiring fire. It can slip away unnoticed, or we can bask in the glow. How ever the darkness arrives, we trust the light will come again in the morning.

So much growth happens in the dark. But it takes courage to go there, to enter in and stare it in the face. It requires us to ask our honest questions, and not have answers. It invites us to experience mystery. We discover some dearly held beliefs prove not to be true. And we are not sure what to replace them with. We may even find our certainty and well-intentioned philanthropy has caused harm. Parts of us that we dislike ask us to love them. Grounded in the belief we are Beloved, we can develop a clearer self-awareness and humility. Resting from the need to prove ourselves allows the old, brown leaves to fall, and quietly and gently fertilise wondrous growth.

Today I invite you to watch the sunset. Maybe just this evening. Maybe every evening for a month. As you watch the sun fall, think of the losses you are experiencing, the endings and the roles you are no longer fulfilling. Let go of certainty, and the limiting beliefs that no longer serve you well. Let them set with the sun. Let them go. Say your good-byes.

And trust that the light will come again. Offer your questions. Let your colours develop. Morning will dawn. The sun will rise. And you will have grown.

receive this season as a gift

One comment

  1. Audrey Wilkinson

    Unfortunately, there are houses between my vision and the sunset. It seems good to
    me to accept the sunrise, which I can see, and daily to focus on the promise, which is, so often, affected by one’s early morning mood. Forget the gloom of the past, focus on God’s new day, given with a promise so profound of life in all its abundance, that once you have taken it in and made it a part of your daily living, transforms life. Add to that the knowledge of His love, amazing, indescribable, overwhelming in its intensity, and the blackness of any morning can be overcome.

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