Bereaved But Still Me

Healing Brokenness Through Prayer

August 01, 2019 Alden Solovy Season 3 Episode 8
Bereaved But Still Me
Healing Brokenness Through Prayer
Chapters
Bereaved But Still Me
Healing Brokenness Through Prayer
Aug 01, 2019 Season 3 Episode 8
Alden Solovy

Alden Solovy talks with Michael about his wife Amy, his passion for writing prayers, his current projects and where we can buy his books.

Alden Solovy spreads joy and excitement through prayer. A liturgist and poet, his work has been used by people of all faiths throughout the world. He’s written more than 700 pieces of new liturgy, offering a fresh new Jewish voice, challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth, and prayer. He’s a teacher, a writing coach, and an award-winning essayist and journalist. He’s an ELI talk fellow, speaking on “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

Alden’s writing was transformed by multiple tragedies, marked in 2009 by the sudden death of his wife from catastrophic brain injury. As a result, he deepened his exploration of meditation, poetry, liturgy and personal prayer as a healing, spiritual practice. His third book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, was released in 2017 by CCAR Press. His next book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, is anticipated this winter, also from CCAR Press.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/HearttoHeart)

Show Notes Transcript

Alden Solovy talks with Michael about his wife Amy, his passion for writing prayers, his current projects and where we can buy his books.

Alden Solovy spreads joy and excitement through prayer. A liturgist and poet, his work has been used by people of all faiths throughout the world. He’s written more than 700 pieces of new liturgy, offering a fresh new Jewish voice, challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth, and prayer. He’s a teacher, a writing coach, and an award-winning essayist and journalist. He’s an ELI talk fellow, speaking on “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

Alden’s writing was transformed by multiple tragedies, marked in 2009 by the sudden death of his wife from catastrophic brain injury. As a result, he deepened his exploration of meditation, poetry, liturgy and personal prayer as a healing, spiritual practice. His third book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, was released in 2017 by CCAR Press. His next book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings, is anticipated this winter, also from CCAR Press.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/HearttoHeart)

spk_0:   0:00
I realized that I have experienced Broken Miss, but I'm not broken. I don't have to identify as the broken this

spk_2:   0:21
Welcome friends to the third Season of Heart to Heart with Michael program for the Braves community, Our purpose is to empower members of our community this season. We're taking a longer view of grief. Can we find healing? Can we find peace? Today's show is healing Brokenness through prayer. Here with us today to discuss this topic is our guest, Alden Sela V, and Segment one will learn who walled in Solid is who learned about his wife, Amy, and her tragic. Yet in the second segment, Alden will tell us about his passion for writing prayer, and finally Alden will tell us about his car projects and where we could get some of his really good books. All its Alavi spreads joy and excitement through prayer. A little Justin, a poet. His work has been used by people of all faiths throughout the world. He's written more than 700 pieces of new energy, offering fresh new Jewish voice. Challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth and prayer is a teacher or writing coach and an award winning essayist and journalist. He's an Eli talk fellow speaking on falling in love with prayer. Alden's writing was transformed by multiple tragedies marked in 2009 by the sudden death of his wife from catastrophic brain injury. As a result, he deepened his exploration of meditation, poetry, energy and personal prayer as a healing spiritual practice. His third book, The Grateful Heart. Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, was released in 2017 by CCR Press. His most recent book, This Joyous Soul. A New Voice

spk_3:   1:44
for Ancient Yearnings, was released earlier this year. All done. Thank you so much for being with us on the program.

spk_0:   1:51
Thanks for having me.

spk_3:   1:53
Let's start with you telling us about your wife.

spk_0:   1:56
Yeah, Amy was an artist, a photographer, a writer and a clinical psychologist. She loved to travel if she was with a friend in Maine, um, and felt G a hit her head and had traumatic brain injury. That was on Ah Thursday evening. I had already turned by telephone off for the night and had no news until 6 a.m. On a Friday morning. A policeman came to my door, uh, and said, You need to call this hospital. Something has happened to your wife. I call the hospital, learn that she had about 24 hours toe live, that she wasn't on responsive, and I needed to. Then, of course, called my daughters. My adult daughters were not living at home, called him up and tell them Your mom's going to die today. We're gonna go out to Maine to be with her. For those those last hours,

spk_3:   3:01
I just can't even imagine getting full club that as a child, that moment must have been one of the most difficult things that anyone I know has ever been through. How do you by the strength for that,

spk_0:   3:11
what I'll say that I appreciate your recognizing that is that, you know, in these moments we do things that we didn't know how to do. I don't know how to tell my daughters that their mom is going to die. I still don't know how to do it, even though I did it, and yet we we do those things. We step into what's needed in those really horrible moments. So as as I was packing and and, uh, trying to reach my daughters, my sister. I was on the phone making error. Transportation plans for all of us. My daughter from Denver got to the hospital, Eastern Maine Medical Center and Bangor got there a few hours before my younger daughter and I got there. My younger daughter was living on her own, and we met at O'Hare Airport. We traveled together, hit horrible weather, hit this rain, and the plane was diverted. We had a drive a couple of hours to get to the hospital. So my oldest daughter was there by herself with her, her dying mother until we arrived. Sometime later, my sister in law arrived, and that evening the nurses began the conversation with us about organ transplant. The hospital was amazing. They they really took phenomenal care of us. Sometime after midnight, they suggested we go to a half. They maintain a family look like an end for families who need to stay overnight. They suggested that we should get a few hours of sleep and that they would call us when the first brain declaration of brain death might get might be imminent. So, uh, somewhere that morning, five in the morning, six in the morning, I got the call. I woke up my kids. I got over there first. Then the kids came and we spent the morning with with Amy. As you know, she moved toward her. You know, our ultimate dad

spk_3:   5:41
had that 50 kids.

spk_0:   5:43
My Children watched their mother die. They saw you heard beautiful blind hair full of blood. They, you know, were by her bedside. When, um, you know, we were asked out of the room for the first declaration of brain death. They were with her and at her bedside when a local rabbi, right, my dear Lerner came and performed what's known as a bedside v Dewey, a deathbed, it confessional on behalf of someone who can't make confessional for themselves. No, they said goodbye to their mother. They you know, they did those things and they were devastated. This was on a Saturday morning. It was what's known as shabiha Godel in the Jewish world. That's the Sabbath before Passover. By the time the um, organ donations were done and we got back to Chicago and we had two days of mourning two days of Shiva before Passover, we had two seders, two of the ritual meals for Passover the first ones without their mother There. We had an empty chair toe hold her space. We didn't know what we were doing. We were just tryingto make it at that point,

spk_3:   7:08
Unicenter by yourself that first night in segment

spk_0:   7:11
I I did. We're surrounded by family. We asked certain people not to come, who understood? We ask other people to come. We wanted to be near us. Frankly, In retrospect, I probably should not have run a Seder. I should have looked for other places for us to go. On the other hand, what would we have done? We were, You know, at least there we were, a family. We were together. We, we we had each other.

spk_3:   7:38
I want to disagree. I think there's a lot of advantage to you having been there. Perhaps maybe someone else could have could have run it. But the idea that you're in your own home and not unexamined in somebody else's home is the family that just lost. Their mom Probably would be better to be home surrounded by family. Just I would think that is complicated. Is it? Is it? It might even be the best answer, but still want those difficult moments I can imagine.

spk_0:   8:02
It was tough. I would say the year after the Passover after was brutal. We were there, in a sense, for the first time without Amy, even though it was the second time, Right? Because the first time we were in shock and it was it was it hadn't even settled.

spk_3:   8:22
I know that your kids had difficulty grieving in any way that you would have expected that they would. Every time you approached them, they said, Not now. We're not ready. This isn't how we want to grieve. How did you break that?

spk_0:   8:34
Well, I didn't know they were adults. They needed to be allowed to grieve on their own time just because Dad needed them to be okay. Didn't mean they needed to be okay. They were. They were on their own particular journey. They just said not now. What I did for me was I wrote a prayer for them, wrote a prayer, frankly, because there was nothing left for me to do as a father. But pray for them

spk_3:   9:09
and you can share that. Pray with us now.

spk_0:   9:12
Yeah. That prayer is called for bereaved Children. I don't have to read it. Thank you, Father of Jacob, mother of Rocco. Source of on Wonder Cradle and shelter. Our Children are lost in tears, crushed in sorrow, erased in loneliness, bent and broken. Their hopes dust their joys, cinders their dreams shadows You, who comfort Zion in Israel, comfort our Children in this most grievous moment of loss and show them the path from darkness to light Renew their hope, rekindled their joy, sparked their dreams so that they, too, will know you're healing power, your salvation and grace your loving kindness. Hold them, lift them, carry them until refreshed by your spirit. They walk upright once again toward holiness and love, with charity and Thanksgiving. Humility and strength in awe

spk_1:   10:16
and righteousness to sing your praise.

spk_2:   10:21
That's beautiful Thank you

spk_4:   10:32
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many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired. Our new album will be available on iTunes amazon dot com Spotify.

spk_4:   10:52
I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with congenital heart defects.

spk_2:   10:59
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spk_4:   11:00
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spk_5:   11:05
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spk_1:   11:38
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on Michael's program, please email him at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com Now back to our program.

spk_3:   11:53
Well, then, when we were talking in our pre interview, we talked about the feeling of Brokenness that many of us feel one. Lose someone. Tell me how you feel your Brokenness about losing your wife affect your life.

spk_0:   12:04
Yeah, thanks for that, Michel Broken. This is is ah, an important topic. I think that the first called breakthrough that I experienced was in thinking about grief and joy. That was part of me that felt that if I was to joyful, I was somehow taking away from my grief.

spk_3:   12:28
We've all felt that that guilt

spk_0:   12:31
guilt isn't wasn't exactly what I was feeling. It was more like, ah, feeling that it somehow was not giving it. The Hebrew word has covered the honor that the that the grief needed. And so

spk_3:   12:47
it felt wrong to be happy For a while

spk_0:   12:49
that joy could be fully experienced because somehow it it diminished my grief. I don't know how word that differently The breakthrough waas really understanding the truth of the matter is that I can hold joy in one hand and that can hold grief in another hand. And my joys don't get away from my griefs and my griefs Don't take away from my joys. And once I had that breakthrough

spk_3:   13:25
uh huh

spk_0:   13:26
I realized that I have experienced broken Miss But I'm not broken. I don't have to identify as the broken this I used the phrase I have experienced broken nous and I am still whole.

spk_3:   13:47
I love the thank you. We had a reason guest who said that that grief in love were opposite sides of the same coin. That a grieving experience is actually a loving experience. But pain?

spk_0:   13:59
Yeah, that's beautiful. The spirituality of that notion that grief and love are are opposite sides of the same coin that they're connected is is that I am a child of God. We're all Children of God and therefore and the way I see the world, I am exactly what I need to be in this moment on exactly what God needs me to be in this moment. So how dare I say I'm not enough? How dare I say I'm broken? If I believe that I'm what God needs me to be right now, I have experienced broken this and I still experience it with regard to Amy's passing. And I'm whole I don't identify as a broken man.

spk_3:   14:53
That, I think, is one of the most interesting lessons that's ever come out of this program. Okay, people struggled for a way to understand how to go on without giving up something. They think that moving on is moving away, and it really isn't. If you know how to understand what you've been through and how to bring your loved one with you in some other way.

spk_0:   15:16
It gets to the issue of of what I I see is a pervasive problem in our culture, which is wound worship, essentially making the wound something that's holy instead of understanding the Holiness in being wounded.

spk_3:   15:33
That's a very difficult concept, but if you work it through, I think that really brings people around to where they need to be. In the end of a grieving process on guy. Say that carefully because I'm not sure that greeting press is ever really end, but a final position where you are still grieving. But moving on This is where you need to be, and I think that really that really sums it up.

spk_0:   15:53
One of the things I would say about your program is you very sensitively. You give people permission in the sense to be wherever they are in their grieving process. You're at the beginning. Welcome. You're struggling. Welcome. You've fallen back, If that's ah appropriate way to put it. Welcome. Wherever you are, this community support you, which which you know. So there's no judgment.

spk_3:   16:19
Well, absolutely No. I think that is the only reason why we're here is to not judge people, but to say whatever you feel is right, because you feel it and to help people where they are to raise them up, if that's what they need. Now I want to ask you, you've already shared a really beautiful prayer. That's but I'd like to know why you decided to start writing prayers. Where did that come from in your life? Because it began before Amy.

spk_0:   16:42
It began about a month or so before Amy passed away. It was a gift. Asar. As I'm concerned, my I have, AH, morning prayer routine, which is essentially a reading from some daily inspirational readers and then meditating than praying from the classic Jewish text, the Seed or the Jewish prayer book, then journaling. And just one day, as I was journaling, I wrote down a prayer, huh? That's interesting. That's cool. And sure enough, the next day it happened, and the next day, two or three for about a month I was writing and my meditation waas I have clear and clean. It felt as if I was full, as if I was being prepared for something, and I said and I wonder I wonder what this is about. I wonder why this is happening. And then, um sure enough, Uh, we got the news about Amy and everything happened at the hospital. We had the Passover seders, and I felt completely empty and blank. And my reaction was, I get it. I was I was given a gift. I was given a spiritual if you will fill up of the tank in order to do these things that were so difficult and now it's done. Frankly, I don't ever need to pray again was my thought.

spk_3:   18:20
But that didn't happen, did it?

spk_0:   18:22
No, that didn't happen. And it was really this thing with my daughters. When when I finally with in with nowhere else to turn because I couldn't fix them, I wrote a prayer this prayer for bereaved Children that I just read that just opened the floodgates, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and it was my process of healing, which was writing, healing prayers and prayers of celebration and prayers of mourning. And in the last 10 years, I've written more than 750 pieces of new liturgy, and this has been a huge part of my healing process.

spk_3:   19:11
Well, then I'm gonna ask you to read another one that combines so many of these mixed feelings in these opposite forces within us that we feel from time to time. One of the hardest things to pass through after somebody dies is their birthday. And you have a birthday prayer. You share that with us?

spk_0:   19:31
Yeah. Thank you. This is called Birthday Gnome. Or it appears in my book called This Grateful Heart. And I'm gonna read it in Amy's name. There's actually a blank line in this to fill in either the name of the deceased or the relationship with the deceased. So I'm going to read it in her name. This empty space and time in my heart is yours, Dear Amy, It is the space for yearning, The space of memory The day your light came into the world A day of sorrow for what was lost Birthdays that will never be This day touches the depths of my grief and loss. This day touches a wound and makes it new God of generations Be with me and my family as we remember what waas on what might have been.

spk_5:   20:31
I was five hours old when I had my first surgery.

spk_1:   20:34
The only advice I could really give someone like that is to be there for your family.

spk_5:   20:39
This is life and you have to live it or you're in a corner and cry.

spk_4:   20:44
I am Anna Gorski and the host of Heart to Heart with Anna. Join us on Tuesdays at noon, Eastern time on Speaker R Block Talk radio. We'll cover topics of importance for the congenital heart defect community. Remember, my friends, you are not alone.

spk_2:   21:01
If you've enjoyed listening to this program, please visit our website hearts, unite the globe dot or GE and make a contribution. This program is a presentation of hearts, Unite the globe and is part of the hug podcast Network. Hard Tonight The Globe is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resource is to the congenital heart defect community to educate and power and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resource is pertaining to the CHD community, please visit our website at Congenital Heart defects dot com for information about CHD hospitals that treat CHD survivors, summer camps for CHD families and much, much more.

spk_1:   21:40
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you have a question or comment that you would like a dressed on our program, please send an email to Michael, even at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com Now back toe heart to heart with Michael Now

spk_3:   21:57
I know you've written four books. Can you tell us about the books and where, Where we can find them?

spk_0:   22:01
Sure, Thanks. My first book is called Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. It's Ah, 150 pieces on a wide variety of topics ranging from the cancer journey to the the surgery journey to general prayers for healing to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's dementia, mental illness, addiction, hospice care, medical science as well as all sorts of prayers on hopes and praises and families, love and friendship. Um, this book was was self published. The idea was to just get myself out there, as as was a second very brief book, which is in support of the Passover Seder called, He got a companion, both of those air available on the Amazon look for Jewish present, hoping healing or how I got a companion. The next two books were published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The This Grateful Heart is a book about times and seasons, so it talks about days, seasons, the stews SAB of Jewish Holy days, other secular holidays of theirs ends ends of life, prayers, grieving prayers, memorial prayers. So this Grateful Heart and its companion volume this joyous soul, which is a Siri's of prayers that follow the Jewish morning worship service. So all of the core sections of Jewish prayer are reflected in various readings in that book. Both of those congee found on A, C, C, a r press dot or GE they're also available on Amazon as well. So, um, I appreciate the opportunity Thio tell you a little bit about them.

spk_3:   24:16
I just want to point out that although these books originally have, I would say a Jewish focus. You have been read by almost every religion on the planet. I don't I think that anyone who's not Jewish couldn't or shouldn't find something in these books for them. That's really important to me because in my view I see it as a gift to the rest of the world, and I think that's something special that maybe we don't do enough of.

spk_0:   24:44
I appreciate that my work has been used by people of many faiths all over the world, in times of joy and in times of sorrow. And frankly, I'm surprised at the the great enthusiasm for modern literature. Gee, that's out there. Lots of people are truly yearning for words, toe articulate their their their moments. There, there, moments of encounter with the divine, their moments of grief there, moments of joy's special holidays. It's really quite amazing.

spk_3:   25:23
Is this something that maybe crosses all kinds of religious borders that people are are looking for prayers at a more relevant?

spk_0:   25:30
I would say That's one aspect. The other aspect is there in Jewish tradition. At any rate, there there's the general use of a helium of psalms, as as a recited prayer to cover all kinds of situations. And in our modern age, folks seemed to want very targeted prayers for very specific moments. And so that's that piece I think is is reflective of of our day.

spk_3:   26:03
What I'm hearing is very interesting that basically people haven't changed all that much over the millennia, and that our yearnings to understand the things that happen to us haven't really changed.

spk_0:   26:15
Yeah, I think that's right, that the yearnings are the same. Maybe the way things happen to us, that'll be different.

spk_3:   26:23
You know, throughout the ages, people died and other people want to. Don't try to understand that, Ryan. I don't think that's changed. I just think we speaking in a language now that we understand it's not the same language but the yearnings and the concepts really haven't changed that much.

spk_0:   26:39
Absolutely, absolutely true. What I would say is, Jewish prayer makes on Lee one promise. And I think it's a profound and immense promise. And it goes like this Baroque Atash m showman Villa. Blessed are you God, who hears prayer. The great promise of Jewish prayer Is that God, higher power, spirit the divine. However you want to say it, God is paying attention. God is witnessing my life. Got his witnessing your life. How phenomenal is that? That your life, the death of my wife, the death of your daughter, the death of your friends, the birth of friends. God is witnessing that. That's amazing.

spk_3:   27:35
I spent a lot of time stargazing, and you get to profoundly opposite feelings at the same time, you look at the universe and you say I am great because I'm a piece of this greatness And then you see how big it is and I am nothing because all of that it's still far away. And I am so tiny to think that in all of that distance and all of that size and space that that somebody is listening to me that's really nice. I appreciate that. And just finally one of the prayers that really touched the team here when we were getting to know you was peaceful. Come, Can you share that with us?

spk_0:   28:11
Delight and peace will come is from this joyous peace will come through the grace of God and the work of humanity. Compassion and kindness, forgiveness and love. Patients and gratitude, justice and mercy, Empathy and understanding. Each act a yearning, each deed, a longing for wholeness and tranquility. In our world, you makes peace in the highest heavens, guide our hearts and our hands and service to each other and your world to bring peace to all the nations of the earth. All people everywhere.

spk_3:   28:55
I have nothing left to say except thank you so much for being here. That concludes this episode of heart to heart with Michael. I want to thank all the salary for sharing his prayers and so much more with us. Thank you all.

spk_0:   29:08
Thanks, Mike. It was a pleasure to be here.

spk_3:   29:11
Please join us again at the beginning of the

spk_2:   29:12
month for brand new podcast. I'll talk with you soon, and until then, remember, moving forward is not moving away.

spk_1:   29:19
Thank you. Thank you again for joining us. We hope you have gained strength from listening to our program. Heart to heart with Michael could be heard every Thursday at noon Eastern time. We'll talk again next time when we'll share more stories.

spk_2:   29:43
Friends. If you've enjoyed this program, please visit our patri on page at www patriot dot com slash heart to heart.