Sentimentality is one of those experiences that asks for confidence and humility. It is the chance to feel things deeply, and to be moved by the subtle emotions that appear. I was not always able to indulge myself in sentimentality, as it so often felt silly, understated and irrelevant. There was too much sadness in my life to be able to access the sweet, reflective emotions that sentimentality brought up for me. But I have healed through that now, and I have had the chance to drop into my life in a different way, a way that allows me to cherish these sweet, cathartic moments and gain vitality from them.
Recently, my family gathered together on our seaside property, which has been in our family for over 125 years, to remember and celebrate the life of my 100-year-old uncle who passed away last December. So many relatives showed up. It was extraordinary. For a week and half, we gathered together for walks, yoga, beach time, lobster feasts and barbeques. When we weren’t formally together, we were just passing by one another, doing the everyday tasks that we all do in our days. There was a natural flow to the experience, because we were all present. This ease bubbled up incredible gratitude and joy in my heart.
A huge amount of healing happened for my family in early July, healing that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for that. A few decades ago, I wouldn’t have believed this kind of easy, joyous retreat would be possible. But with the passage of time, and the arrival of new generations in our family, so much has changed. Life has offered each individual family many challenges, and I love to see the beautiful spirit that my family members embrace in the face of these challenges. In a discussion I had with my cousin yesterday, we reflected how as children we just followed suit with our parents’ grievances and prejudices. Those old family rifts seem so meaningless now.
This reunion and this next generation put a stake in the ground this summer and said, “No more!” Life brought us together to move beyond the tired, worn out disturbances of the past. Now, we show up for the hopeful healing and happy times of today and tomorrow.
I have changed my feelings about being sentimental. I now love what it reveals in my life. It helps me read my heart differently than I can read it any other time. Time stands still when it appears, as though to say, “Stop everything you are doing. This is a valuable moment and you don’t want to miss it.” As I reflect on the pictures, calls and moments of my family’s time together, I feel very sentimental. For as long as I need to, I will stay in those emotions, because I know extraordinary Grace has shown up to heal us all.