On Joy and Sorrow


On Joy and Sorrow from The Prophet
 by Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Joy and sorrow come to us as we wend our way through life. We run towards joy and away from sorrow, but as Gibran states, they are inseparable. Learning to live a balanced life is the best we can do.

IMG_5550In October, our beloved dog Ruby was released from her struggle with cancer and though it broke our hearts to say goodbye, after eleven and a half years, it was her time. She had been my ‘bubblegum,’ never leaving my side and I mourned her loss acutely. My daily walks without her company were the worst. I would cry nearly every time I went out and told myself I would learn to walk alone. Then one day after five weeks, I realized that I had gone through half my walk before thinking of her. I was recovering my balance.

Another few weeks went by and I realized I wanted no longer to walk alone. I had a hole in my heart that only a dog would fill. The love, affection and companionship of a dog was missing and I wanted it again. As did my family, who felt the loss of Ruby as I did. We have a good home to offer a pet (heaven on earth, really) and the knowledge that thousands of wonderful dogs are euthanized daily because there is no one to adopt them, moved me.

So I began to look at area rescue shelters, many of which save dogs from kill shelters down South, where there are a great many unwanted pets. After a few days, one caught my eye. A lab mix with a good disposition, a little over a year old, pulled from a shelter in South Carolina, stated to get along with pets (we have two cats) and children (we have young neighbors). I sent in the application and set up a meeting time. Well, what was not to love? She was the sweetest dog ever! We adopted ‘Wren’ at the end of December and she has already brought our home so much love and light. And yes, joy.



About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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59 Responses to On Joy and Sorrow

  1. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Beautiful dog, Eliza. She has lovely intelligent eyes. May she bring you hours of fun and joy in your walks and life together.

  2. Oh my. I too have “The Prophet” given to me in my twenties by a very dear friend. Many of its passages have comforted me over the years. I wasn’t expecting you to lead into such a joyful moment. You know we lost our Berkley in October too. I still feel his loss so keenly. And now I look at your precious Wren and feel such happiness for you both. For her that she has hit the doggie jackpot and has come into your loving embrace, and for you, because….well, you know. XXX

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Yes, we lost our beloveds just days apart. It took me this long to be able to write about it. They leave such a big hole in our hearts when they leave us, don’t they? Is Max handling the overflow?
      Now with Wren I’m filling up with lots of joy – after the sorrow I can contain even more. Hugs to you.

  3. mk says:

    This brings tears to my eyes as I read your heartache and see the picture of Ruby. Indeed, the same place of tender love for a pet is where both joy and sorrow are born. I am so happy to meet Wren, and what a lovely name that is.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Micheal. Writing this was a challenge even after all this time. Ruby will always have a place in our hearts.
      Wren is fitting in so well and what a love she is. Training her not to chase cars and chickens is our biggest challenge, but with time she will figure it out. 🙂

  4. Eliza, this was so touching. I was sitting here crying. The poem at the top was perfect for the story you had to tell. Really speaks to the circle of life and all that we have to give and all that we are lucky to receive.

  5. Treah says:

    Brought tears to my eyes……good-bye, Ruby; we will never forget you. Hello, Wren; I can’t wait to meet you! Maybe someday a sweet dog (or dogs) will come live here again to fill the missing part of our hearts that Buddy & Jewel took away with them. Sniff, sniff……..

  6. Sue Vincent says:

    Oh what lovely faces, Eliza. And Wren looks a real sweetheart.

  7. maureenc says:

    Our hearts and lives are completed when we have an animal companion to love, and be loved in return. I feel your pain at the loss of Ruby: it’s a gut wrenching time.
    Thank you for giving Wren a second chance at a loved life.

  8. March Picker says:

    So pleased that you have lovely Wren to love! How much you learned from Ruby, Eliza. Your words and photos have touched me. Thank you.

  9. Dear Eliza, what a beautiful post! I’m so glad you’ve introduced Wren 😉 You selected one of my very favorite Gibran passages, and one I needed to read again. Thank you for that. I hope you are all having a grand time as Wren settles in. I know its a little too cold for those walks Labs need, and know you’ll be able to get out together soon 😉 Hugs, WG

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, dear friend. I finally could post about Ruby, it took that long. Gibran’s passage has helped me through many a sorrow over the years.
      Yes, our walks have been short and brisk!

      • Friends gave me a copy of “The Prophet” at my high school graduation. I’ve treasured it and read it for many occasions since. Timeless- And so true that our greatest sorrows come from what were our dearest loves. A great lesson in life. It takes such courage to live well. Don’t you think? Hugs to you, Eliza, and good wishes for little Wren. I’m sure she is still basking in the joy of her new home.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Thanks for your kind wishes, we both are happy. It is nice falling in love again! 🙂

      • 😉 That is the perfect way to describe it- a love affair 😉

  10. Kina says:

    How can anyone read this and not get misty-eyed? Your writing is always beautifully done. I am looking forward to meeting Wren. A wonderful addition to the family!

  11. Heather says:

    We’ve mourned the loss of several family pets over the years, but brought home our first dog last November (2013). I know just what you mean about not wanting to be without a dog. They make life richer. I’m sorry for the loss of your bubblegum, but happy you have Wren to share your life with. Petey (the pit bull we rescued) give her four paws up 🙂

  12. I have four dogs down from a high of five. One of my girls is very old and I know her days are numbered. I can’t live without a dog. I just can’t. I’m so glad you adopted a shelter dog. :o)

  13. ladyfi says:

    Dogs do make our lives richer! As you know, I lost my dear Oscar recently, so I feel your pain. Wren looks adorable – what a sweet face.

  14. Eliza I wish you much joy with your new companion and my sincere sympathy on the loss of your treasured Ruby. I had no idea how much love a dog can give until we adopted Maggie. What a wonderful gift she is

  15. seedbud says:

    Eliza, I’m so sorry for your loss and so happy you now have Wren. The light in your photo is heavenly – it must be your Bubblegum smiling down on you and sending her blessings.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Catherine. I definitely feel Ruby’s spirit around us still, lighter now that she is freed from her earthly burden. I carry her in my heart and though I miss her, I am happy she runs free.

  16. Robin says:

    This is a beautiful post, Eliza. I’m sorry for your loss of Ruby, but at the same time I am so glad Wren has found you and that you have found Wren. Wishing you many walks together. 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Robin. Yes, many miles of delightful company over many years, that is my hope. She has a lot of puppy energy still and that playfulness is fun to see.

  17. What a touching story. I’m so happy for you and your new friend. 🙂

  18. Rebecca says:

    Eliza, your post brought tears to my eyes. We lost our older dog, Jemma, a couple of months ago. She was sixteen and had been with us for fifteen of those years (we got her from an animal shelter). She brought so much joy and laughter into our lives, and quietyly taught my partner and I, who are childless by choice, to put another creature’s consideration before our own (a good lesson for both of us to learn!). Though she was ready to go, it was still hard for us to say goodbye. I understand your need to weep.
    We have been lucky enough to be left with our ‘younger’ dog, Ron, the black lab (he is seven years old), and he still brings much laughter to our days. I wish you much happiness and companionship with Wren, and I know that your memories of Ruby will stay in a cherished place in your heart.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Rebecca, thank you for your kind response. I hope Wren stays with us for fifteen years! ‘Jemma’ was one of the name considerations, interestingly. Your Jemma sounds like a wonderful dog. They do teach us a lot don’t they? While they are here and even after they go. Ruby will always reside in my heart- she is a part of me, as I’m sure Jemma is in you.

  19. So sorry about your Ruby. We had to have my sweet Tasha collie put down this summer and walks are where I miss her the most. But I’m pleased you now have Wren to love.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Ellen. I remember your post about Tasha. Saying goodbye is so very hard. I’m glad to have a new dog to love, the companionship is a wonderful thing. Do you have any plans for a new pup yourself?

  20. livblumer says:

    Hard shoes to fill, but she does look so winning. What a lucky pup.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Hi Liv! Happy New Year to you & Bill. Tough couple of months, but we’re on the mend and little Miss Wren is doing a fine job settling in (and taking over)! 😉 You’ll have to come meet her!

  21. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    Eliza, this post made me cry and that’s perfectly alright! Thank you for helping me with my healing through my grief of losing Nikki in September. Sadly we lost Jade, our Abyssinian tabby in May and our gorgeous long-haired Siamese in November, so a very rough six months I’m still reeling from. I began to cry as you shared about Ruby, whose sweet face (and coloring!) looks so like my Nikki-girl, and the loneliness on walks… I am SO glad you found Wren (what a great name!) and I hope to be there someday soon, but my heart is still so broken from losing 3 of 4 four-legged children recently. Yes they age, and some battles cannot be won no matter how advanced veterinary medicine is. Anyways, sorry, long comment here! Really just want to say Thank You… so much. For sharing, for adopting a new ‘fur-kid’, and helping me heal a bit more. Love & Light, Gina

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Gina, I feel that our journeys are parallel. Losing a beloved is so very hard, but to lose 3 in six months must be so painful. It must be processed in our own good time. I still feel so sad about Ruby, she and I were seldom separated, but Wren is doing a good job showing me how to live in the present – pets are ‘guardians of being’ and she reminds me that Now is all there is. Blessings, dear Gina.

  22. Robbie says:

    Oh Eliza, I have not stopped by since last week + I missed this post:-) It brought tears to my eyes. I remember your story about losing Ruby once + finding her again..This post made me cry:-(
    I lost our middle dog, Schatze( pit bull rescue) on June 29th this year. She was not herself that day, so we took her to the vet that day + had her put to sleep the same day. She was 10 years old and her body was filled with cancer. I had no idea she was hurting but knew something was wrong when she no longer wanted to jump high for her ball outside. She was grunting when she jumped off the bed and was just standing there and not doing much outside…it was so horrible. I cried for days. Ilost Buddy( our german-shepard-husky mix rescue=13yrs old) in 2009. I have never cried so much for both dogs…this story brought back all those tears…
    My heart goes out to you + I am so glad you have another “sweetheart” to walk with you in paradise….:-) I am so glad:-) you do not walk alone, but remember you will see Ruby again:-)

  23. Pingback: Allowing for Grief | Professions for PEACE

  24. Sophie says:

    This is so beautiful – thank you for using your experience to remind me of this message – it’s a powerful one and so very true – so very worth remembering xx I get so far behind on the blog but I always appreciate your wonderful pictures and positive messages about this quite miraculous world we live in xxx

  25. RMW says:

    The loss of any pet is. of course, the loss of a family member… and they are never forgotten When the cat I had for 18 years passed away last year I surprised myself by adopting another one within a month… and then another one six months later. Looks like both you and Wren hit the jackpot!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks Roslyn for commenting. Love is a limitless well from which we can abundantly draw. Even when we lose our beloveds, after a mourning period we are ready to love again (and for you, twice!).

  26. Sharon K. says:

    Oh, dear Eliza, what lovely companions.

    Hello, Ruby and Wren, you beautiful girls.

    Gentle, sweet and loving souls, all of you.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

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