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xxxiii. Signs and Wonders - Sadness


From 12th century Middle Dutch sat, Dutch zad, Old English seed, German satt.

Sadder than any Twilight

ix. Past Carin' – 1922 after the death of Henry Lawson

At dusk in the cottage at Abbortsford

Alone with a story half done

The tree that stands tall in his memory

Is falling along with the sun.

At dusk in the cottage at Abbortsford

Where the darkness at last comes in

He is haunted by white clouds still flying

And the tree that is falling on him.

At dusk in the cottage at Abbortsford

Now all of this carin' is past

Sadder than any twilight

Is falling, is falling, at last.

Jeff Guess


We humans are capable of experiencing great joy, and we are also visited by the sadness of difficulty and loss. Sadness may come right on cue or it may arrive when you least expect it. But whatever the circumstances either as individuals of society we don’t deal with it well. Our first response is fear and panic. We want to get rid of it as quickly as possible and move out of it. But sadness can be a time of reflection, a sign of transition, a force for change, a time of taking stock and a time for being quiet and alone. It can deepen our capacity to listen, slow us down, soften hard edges and teach us to let go.

Thomas Moore teaches us the need to see a dark night of the soul as a period of transformation, to in fact value visitations of melancholy and sadness. Care must be taken, not cure. He explains that our dark night of the soul is an invitation to become a person of heart and soul and to get close to it and sift it for its gold.

There’s a wonderful cartoon by Michael Leunig. It shows a man kneeling in front of a pot plant with his head bowed. Tears are falling one by one from his closed eyes into soil around the plant. The stem of the plant has a heart blooming at the top. A small sickle of a moon is in the background. The man’s tears are watering a growing heart.

We might discover that real sadness has its own angel, a guiding spirit whose job it is to carry the soul away to its remote places where it finds unique insight and enjoys a special vision. St. John of the Cross says that it is darkness that offers the best pathway – not the light, but the darkness itself.


Father please bring me healing. Bring balm to my wounds and brokenness. Guide me, care for me and love me.


. . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.

Psalm 30: 5b KJV

This too shall pass.

A medieval Persian Sufi adage.

©Jeff Guess 2017

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