E – Evidence

“I will sit in my predicament as a witness, not as a plaintiff or judge.”
David Richo

1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.
3. Law. data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.


The facts are in, the verdict is announced. In life we all stand guilty – guilty of being human, of living in a fallible world where certain things exist no matter how hard we might try to blink them away. David Richo, in his book The Five Things We Cannot Change … and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them summarizes these five “unavoidable givens” as:

1. Everything changes and ends.
2. Things do not always go according to plan.
3. Life is not always fair.
4. Pain is a part of life.
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time.

Contrary to the popular practice of ignoring or avoiding the effects of these on our lives, Ricci proposes that instead of judging these realities as negatives, we recognize that it is our fear and struggle against them that is the “real source of the troubles. Once we learn to accept and embrace these fundamental down-to-earth facts, we come to realize that they are exactly what we need to gain courage, compassion, and wisdom – in short to find happiness.”

Written as an exploration of the experience of mindfulness in learning to say our yes to what life brings, Ricci does not advocate a forced positive outlook in the face of loss or change. He speaks of mourning as the mechanism we have been given to help us authentically handle these times in our lives. “Mourning,” he says, “is what yes looks like when we face the conditions of existence with feeling…Grief, the yes of tears, makes possible an acceptance of reality and its conditions …. As long as we buy into society’s denial of the need for grief, we lose our chance at strength in the face of what life brings.” (p5)

Page 5, the book is barely begun and yet it has already contacted the point at which so much of our mindfulness ends as we mask our mourning because of fear of inclusion, fear of vulnerability, fear of being seen as a negative person, fear of measuring up to our opinion of ourselves as people of faith, fear of breaking unwritten societal codes of what is appropriate conversation, fear in all its faces and form.

What would happen if instead of standing as accusers or judges of our emotions, we actually allowed ourselves to just be witnesses to our lives, not hiding the parts we have sentenced to isolation but instead allowing the laments of our lives to truly be heard? My guess from experience and history is that the speaking of our laments will, at the very least, like those in the Pslams, help others share their pain instead of holding it inside until it bursts out as physical or emotional violence to self or to others.

What if instead of requiring constant praise we recognized that the verse that speaks about God being strong in our weakness might mean exactly that? We are told to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice not remind the mourning that they should be joyful and the rejoicing that they should be careful of pride. What if we truly said yes to what it means to be there for each other and for the needy in our world in all the aspects of relationship?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to come to terms with the realities of their history and experiences or taking the risk of coming alongside of others who are.

Come in, My Friend
4 November, 1993

Come in, Friend Grief,
You who are a messenger of God
What is it you want to teach me?
What is it I need to learn?

Hold me, dear friend,
Wash me in your loving tears
Don’t let me run away from you
I need the cleansing you bring.

My heart is pain within me
My body bowed with throbbing ache
I cannot hold you in, dear friend,
I have to let you go.

Forgive me, you world around
If for this moment I break the rules of decorum
My friend is here to visit me
And I must hear the message she brings.

Come in, Friend Grief,
You who are a messenger of God.
What is it you have to teach me today?
What is it I need to learn?

*Definition – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evidence

**Quotes from David Richo, The Five Things We Cannot Change … and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, 2005, Shambhala Press

***Poem – LJA, 1993


4 thoughts on “E – Evidence

  1. Laura Hile

    There is much to ponder in today’s post. With age comes the realization that pain and loss grow us, make us finer and more compassionate people. Thank you for sharing your poem.

    1. ljandrie57 Post author

      Your welcome. I guess that is why I appreciate Ricci’s books so much, they help me come to terms with the life that shaped me and the choices that shape my present.


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