Symbols have often had deep meaning to me. Soon after my separation, I chose to drop two stones in “the arms of an eagle”, otherwise known as Eagle Lake, Wisconsin. There was a hurt in my life that I needed to put to rest. Having an affinity for eagle’s and the fact that the hurt was from someone in Wisconsin, the 4 and a half hours each way trip from Duluth just to drop two stones didn’t feel wasted. Though I remember the sadness, the weight of that memory rests there in the muddy bottom.
So coming home, it was one of the stories I wanted to tell from that surreally wonderful week retreat given to me by a stranger. Who better to tell than another stranger I met, a woman lawyer new to the community group I then attended? She became excited by what I shared that resonated with something she had experienced.
She had recently been asked to handle a divorce between a Jewish couple. Within their religion it was not just a matter of signing papers. There was a ritual involved that was as explicitly written as a wedding. I wish I could remember the details. What struck her when in her mind she merged my experience with this intricate letting go, was her belief that we do need that ceremony of closure in divorce. This got me thinking. As a person who strives to live peaceably, was there a way to bring peace into the pain of divorce. Was there something in this conversation that could help.
Admittedly, it is not possible in many cases. However, when I chose to divorce my need of peace outweighed any argument we could have had over things so there was a semblance of amiability between my x and I. Neither of us went to the court when our divorce was granted. We had ironed out our own details with some guidance from a lawyer. When she called to tell us the date the divorce would be official. I ask my x for one favour. On that day, would he have lunch with me at the restaurant we had most often eaten in together. The reasons for the divorce were very real, but it did not mean we had to carry the animosity further. For the sake of our kids, peace mattered. He agreed to this meal to say goodbye to the years we had been a couple.
That day, each of us arrived at the restaurant in our own cars. Just as we did before our wedding, each of us carried a gift. By an unspoken choice, for that meal the reasons for the divorce was set aside. We took time to remember the better moments spent together through the lunch. At the end, we gave each other the gifts to wish each other well in the future. Then we parted ways.
It didn’t mean that it was smooth sailing after that. We had our differences about how to go from there. The divorce was the right decision though, as was the decision to leave it to God to guard between us. There are times my mind still remembers the weight of that divorce, but there is healing in having said a goodbye with good will. I will never regret the decision to share that final meal of goodbye that day.
And example of a Jewish ceremony of divorce: http://www.ritualwell.org/ritual/jewish-divorce-ritual-our-time