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“Thank you, God, for this pain”

“Thank you, God, for this pain”

In their February 11 interview with The Spirituality Network in its “Awakening Lives” podcast, Roy and June had the opportunity to share a little of the backstory and purpose of It All Belongs.


The book’s title, It All Belongs: Love, Loss, and Learning to Live Again came from Judy’s work as a spiritual director through the Spirituality Network’s  Wellstreams Program. In many private sessions and retreats Judy led, she spoke often about “either/or vs. “both/and.”


“From time to time after Judy was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, we would rail and cry together about the terrible hand dealt to us (“cancer sucks!”), the unfairness and anger, pleading and questioning, heartbreak and pain,” Roy remembers. “But then we always came back to “it all belongs”—joy, beauty, anger, frustration—it’s all part of our life experience, a bigger picture of “both/and”. Embracing the totality of our experience is what renewed our strength.”


Roy describes another pivotal moment of profound realization shortly after Judy’s death. He was driving a dark Ohio road at night when an enormous full moon suddenly came into view. Judy especially loved full moons—and its sudden appearance engulfed him in grief. “I had to pull off the road,” he relates. “I just sat there and wept like a baby. I couldn’t drive. And then after a few minutes I was able to finish my drive home. I went inside and continued looking at the moon through a window in our home. I was still sobbing as I uttered the words, ‘Thank you, God, for this pain.'” Roy says it was in that moment he realized the gift of his excruciating pain: the deeper the love, the deeper the pain.


Asked about the size, format, and intentional design of the book, Roy explains: “This is a big book, both in its physical size (10×10, 299 pages, and premium paper that gives it the heft of a small coffee table book) and its heart that makes it feel more like a guided meditation.” Roy goes on to describe the book’s wide margins, open spaces, and blank, lined “reader’s notes” pages (June’s idea) at each chapter’s end. With its step-by-step guides to drawing a mandala and freeform journaling, Roy asserts that this is a book to be used—experienced rather than simply read: “If Judy were here, she’d say, ‘Mess it up! Make it your own. This book is for you!'”


Roy knows pretty well what Judy would say because he was her willing “art sherpa” at her many retreats and workshops where he listened raptly to her wisdom and heard her issue those very words often to encourage reluctant artists. One of those artists was June, who frequently attended Judy’s programs and was personally encouraged by her teaching in much the same way. “I never felt like a creative person, but Judy always brought art supplies for those who would like to express themselves when she offered contemplative prayer sessions, so we got to experience whatever artistic qualities we had. She would always say, ‘Whatever you put together is what you were meant to do—just have fun with it!'”


Judy and June first became friends through their work together at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bexley, Ohio, but once they discovered a mutual love for the Maine coast, their bond was complete. “When those two started talking about Maine, you might as well just walk away,” Roy remembers with a smile. “It was probably going to be a while before they were through.”


Roy’s marriage to June in 2019 underscores the message of hope laced into this book of love, loss and learning to live again. In embracing his debilitating pain as the gift of love and walking through abysmal grief with patience and perseverance, Roy unknowingly became a model for finding a way to resilience and hope amidst devastating loss.


Deep appreciation goes to The Spirituality Network for its work of connecting people with resources for spiritual growth and depth through education and training. Judy completed her Wellstreams spiritual direction training in 2007 and was proud to be part of its long history of fostering spiritual awakening and training through the art of spiritual direction.