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  • Writer's pictureRoi Gal-Or


(7th February 2023)

The images coming from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria awaken immensely deep grief in my heart. From the epicentre of this grief, seismic and tidal waves of memories of other Grief shake my being. I remember the time when I was 21 years old and served as a medic in a field hospital in a disaster area, in Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide. It was a shocking exposure to how powerful and how fragile we humans are.

I spent some years trying to run away from this grief, to block it, to deny it, to turn it a cold shoulder. I was focused on coping, on how to bounce back, to demonstrate to myself and the world my resilience. It took me (and probably will still take) many more years to learn the gifts that can come from yielding to this feeling this Grief. To trust leaning into it, to allow it to ferment me and become my guide. Over the years I have found how this grief has evolved to become an energy that can be harnessed to actually contribute to and support life.

So I am allowing myself time to sit and feel this fresh wave of grief…and from it share some words with you, and a story…

The story of Satsujo, who was a close and honoured disciple of the great 18th century Japanese Zen master Haukin. Satsujo was an old woman when she had lost her dear and beloved granddaughter. Her grief was inconsolable and she spent many months crying. An old man from her spiritual community came to challenge her for this extended grief, and said to her: ‘Why are you crying so much? You who have studied with the great Haukin and were considered by so many of us already so enlightened. Why are you mourning your granddaughter so much? You better overcome this grief and get a grip on yourself and return to your practice in the temple’.

Satsujo answered: ‘You ignorant and heartless fool, what do you understand? My tears and weeping are better for my granddaughter than all of the incense, flowers, and candles!’


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