Finding peace in grief seems to be a common desire. A number of years ago, I read a few books authored by Dorothy Maclean (of the Findhorn Garden in Scotland). The most striking gem I gleaned from her wisdom was whom she called the Angel of Sorrow. Amazingly, she shared that this particular angel is also the Angel of Joy! At first, this seemed to be quite contradictory. Yet, with the passing of time, I’ve realized she may have discovered a profound truth.
We live in what is called a world of duality. This means everything has an opposite. Think of hot and cold. What temperature would you label hot? What would you call cold? It may depend upon a number of factors. Your choice for what temperature would be hot may be based upon where you live and the current season as well as your personal preferences.
Likewise, the opposites of joy and sorrow could be viewed upon similar scales, much as temperature and also dependent upon several factors. The pairing of joy and sorrow seems to align with peace and grief. Thus, we could have elements of both peace and grief within us simultaneously.
Could the arts bring joy to my sorrow?
Let’s think about the arts. Fascinatingly, the visual, literary and musical arts all work with composition. Each of these arts uses elements specific to that mode of art in creating a composition. Incidentally, many of the elements also work with a spectrum of opposites, such as light and dark, melancholic and joyful, or piano and forte (soft and loud)!
Since the arts can hold these opposites within, there is surely room for opposites of grief and peace within us!
It is no wonder that the arts are capable of engaging, changing, and maintaining positive emotions! The capacity of the arts to promote peace has actually become a focus in a Master of Music Education degree at the Elizabethtown College in the state of Pennsylvania: https://www.etown.edu/sgps/programs/graduate/mme.aspx. Peacebuilding is a laudable trait to be emulated by our world cultures. Here is an interview with Kevin Shorner-Johnson regarding his work with this program: ARTS AND SOCIETY – I.
Not only can working as an individual on arts form a sense of peace within oneself, but also working with others artistically can induce peace within a group. Just participating in a group of practicing or performing musicians can create a high within all involved! If you are lacking a group, simply sing along with a recorded piece of music! Let’s ponder. What if all of us could utilize the opportunity of the arts? How harmoniously peaceful our world could be! Perhaps it could help us in finding peace in grief.
As a side note, we must not neglect the grief within. All the arts are known for expressing emotion with so called positive and negative emotions alike. Sometimes beautifully solemn arts may invite us to sit with our pain, to feel it, to allow it an outlet through our tears. This acceptance and eventual release of grief can be another way to grow from trauma and create room for peace.
I close with an appropriate song for you. May you discover healing on whatever point you find yourself on the grief-peace scale. Perhaps this song may begin your peacebuilding journey!