There is an old story, perhaps you have heard it, or some version of it.
It goes like this:
A woman, who was a known gossip, went to her pastor with a broken heart.
She wanted to not only stop gossiping, but she wanted to correct all the wrongs that her gossiping had done to those in her life.
The pastor listened intently, offered her a Kleenex or two, and when she had quieted, he said:
"What I want you to do is to take a feather pillow with you and go to the top of the highest hill just outside of town. When you get to the top of the hill, break open the pillow and let the winds take the feathers where they will. Then come see me tomorrow."
The woman thought it was a very strange request, but assuming it had some message in it about forgiveness and letting go of the past, she did just as he said.
The next morning, she was at his office before he came in.
She told him that she had done exactly as he had requested.
The pastor sat down.
He was quiet for what seemed an extremely long time to her.
Finally he raised his head, looked her in the eyes and said:
"Now, go out there, find and gather every feather. Put them back into the pillow. Stitch it closed. Make it as good as it was before you did this."
She looked at him with shock and distress.
"I cannot do that! There is no way to know where the winds have scattered the feathers! And even if I could gather them all together, I ripped the pillow beyond repair."
He listened to her objections.
And quietly answered her: "No, you cannot do that. Neither can you return and make all right from where you have gossiped. The best you can do is to know the pain & hurt you have caused and determine to never do that again. If perhaps the opportunity presents itself to make apologies, or in some way restitution? Then by all means, do so. But for the most part? You must let go of the guilt that plagues you, and commit to a better way of life from this heartbeat forward."
The realization came one morning a while ago, that my life has become much like those scattered feathers. When Rick died, it was as though my pillow had been ripped open and the winds took my thoughts, my dreams, my fears & hopes, my stuff, my very life - and scattered my feathers to where I cannot find them all again.
No wonder I have felt a darkness, a hopelessness that has overwhelmed me.
I have spent these last almost 9 years now trying to gather my feathers and put it all back together.
I'm done trying.
My heart is weary.
My body is exhausted.
My mind is on burn-out.
My soul & spirit are dry and beyond empty.
All because I have been working so hard to pick up all my scattered feathers.
That morning of realization, I sat still, allowing the tears to cleanse my heart, soul and mind.
I took a deep breath and accepted that I cannot gather my scattered feathers.
But I can go from this point forward.
Doing the best I can do with this life I have been given NOW.
Treasuring the memories of the life I had - before my pillow was ripped, before my feathers were scattered.
Seeking wisdom and direction.
Guarding my heart more carefully.
In some way creating a new pillow, filled with new feathers.
One that will give me strength and comfort, one that I can find rest upon.
But no more spending futile hours and energies on working to gather the scattered feathers.
I will trust those scattered feathers to God, and to Rick.