I’m in Stuttgart this morning. Yesterday we spent the morning running the city streets and parks, the afternoon confusedly navigating the bus and train station to get to the Porsche Museum (oh, the things we do for love).

For the record I did point out to my sports car enthusiast husband that we’ve now been to two museums dedicated to cars and not one dedicated to art. Something we are remedying today when we travel to Freiburg, a town we randomly picked for its history, charm, and location at the edge of the Black Forest. 

Today is for history and museums; tomorrow is for trails and trees.

It is strange to be so removed from home, friends, familiar; so wrapped up in this microcosm of Germany, adventures, where should we stay next?, explorations and travel. 

You cross an ocean and become part of something else for awhile, even as life spins on in Alaska and you wonder how the pets are doing, if you missed anything important, and dread the return to the solstice dark even while embracing the comforting thought of warmth of home.

It’s like you’ve got one foot in each world, as you immerse yourself in the task at hand (thoroughly enjoying Germany), even as you hold space for life back home and know you’ve got to return to it eventually.

I’m standing in between two different worlds, holding space for each. And so it is with grief.

It is my personal reflection after walking through the loss of this past year that you cannot lose somebody you love without placing a foot in the land of grief and death, even as you try and keep a foot in the land of life right now so you can keep going. 

Grief becomes its own microcosm of a world, and a wall goes up that separates you from the normalcy of everyday life, its demands so intense, immediate and exacting you just can’t for awhile.

I learned a lot this past year about the people that are willing to knock on that wall, walk through its door, and come sit with you in that space- that dark but very real place of sorrow- and the people who just want you to exit and come to their space, because it’s more light and comfortable. It hurts to be with others in their pain, whatever that pain may be.

Pain hurts. 

Loss hurts.

Grief hurts.

This election season hurts.

The environment hurts.

Aleppo hurts.

People hurt.

I could keep going and going. So many hurts to allow into our thoughts and hearts and steam of consciousness- I get why people shut themselves off and turn a blind eye and don’t want to go anywhere near another’s wall.

It would almost be too much if it wasn’t for one thing: our tremendous capacity to care and love and because of that love, to hold space inside of ourselves for the things that hurt.

Hurt can sit right along side of love, and if you look at them long enough you will have a hard time seeing where one ends and the other begins, because most things that grieve our souls are usually things where love got turned inside out.

We hurt because we care because we love.

Brent helped teach me that, and he wouldn’t disagree with these next words- becoming a far wiser teacher in his death than he was in his life.

We can hold space for all of it.

For the beautiful wisp of our lives and the tiny worlds we create within this world, so meaningful to us as individuals, so small in the grand scheme: all while holding space for the burdens of this world and keeping our eyes and hearts open.

Awhile ago I had a client ask me if it would ever stop hurting. As gently as I could I said, The hurt will fade but it will never stop hurting anytime you think about it. It wasn’t meant to and that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, it means something is very right with you.

Some things aren’t meant to be pain free, our hurts reminding us where love once lived their. 2016 was both a year of great love and great pain- I carry those both with me now.

We can hold space for all. Learn to embrace and embody and enliven our individual expressions of self, create a world authentic to that expression, all while holding space for the worlds and hurts and joys and differences and lives and breaths of others.

Three 1/2 more days in this space of Germany. It’s been a trip of laughter, some sorrow, many stories, discomfort, inspiration, reflection, completion, and a lot of thought. Life continues to ask me who I wish to be in this world. How I live is my response to the question, and I return home with a deepening awareness that the only response I truly have, that any of us have, is the love we have inside and how we choose to live it.

For today that simply means I write these words. Touch base with a few friends who could use a big hug about now. Type in directions to Freiburg into our tiny, crappy rental car’s GPS and head in that direction.

And finally make it to a proper museum.