Saudade

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This beautiful Portuguese word is difficult to translate fully into English as there is no English word that is it’s equivalent. It is a word which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost.

It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable.

Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” or “the love that stays” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement.

I first came across this beautiful word in reading a post on Twitter by Renee Yohe. Renee’s story is one that I could not do justice to by giving it a simple paragraph in my blog. Instead I will direct you to the ‘To Write Love On Her Arms‘ web page where you can read about her rescue from her own darkness and addiction.

Renee posted this simple word on her twitter a while ago. She has written a song entitled ‘Saudade’, putting more words for the feeling.  The post came around a time where she was enduring a dark season, dealing with the loss of a close friend, and bearing the weight of ‘Saudade’ every single hour. It really moved me that this one simple word from another language could convey all the hurt and longing that was being felt at this time. 

Sometimes I find it’s the most chance encounters, the briefest of conversations, a piece of music or a quote that can give me the words or meaning that I am looking for within situations I am coping with. There are times when it is simply that quiet word of encouragement, the kindness of a stranger, or the ‘how are you’ just when you needed it, are what I need to bring me focus and clarity when I am confused or feeling close to breaking point.

There are times that this support comes from the song lyric that puts words to that feeling you couldn’t express, or I read a quote that brings me hope or comfort. Any and all of these things can bring you back from the brink, rescue you from that edge on which you’ve been teetering, stop you from giving up, bring peace and allow you to find the beauty and the joy in your circumstances or the season in which you are for now.

‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ is often a place where I see such quotes and words of encouragement. These words and quotes often come direct from people who have suffered enormously and are fighting battles that are long, painful and difficult. Many are enduring a season in their life where they are enveloped in darkness and finding it hard to see a light. Others have come through that darkness and are switching on the lights for others.

“We live in a difficult world, a broken world. We believe everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty, but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions—moments, and seasons, and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and help is real.” – Jamie Tworkowski – The Vision of TWLOHA

There is a huge expanse of emotion surrounding us daily, the light and shade of the human existence. Sometimes we find ourselves so caught up in our own circumstance that we don’t always see or acknowledge those around us, whether friends or strangers. I stopped on my way home from work to give some change to one of the many homeless people who live on the streets of my city. I usually stop to chat as I often find that simple talk with them can brighten both my life, and hopefully brings a smile to their face. I had chatted with this man before – as long as I have lived in my city, this man has been homeless. I asked him how he was doing, gave him some change, and asked if he wanted me to go get him a cup of tea, to which he said yes. While chatting, he told me that things were getting better and he had even managed to get enough money together the night before to get a bed in a shelter. He was hoping people would be just as kind today. While I sat chatting, nearly 100 people passed us most likely, without one of them giving a second look. People caught up in their daily lives not realising that this man’s hope for today lies in their kindness and generosity.

I believe in that hope, in whatever guise it may come. Hope is real. It may come as a hug from from someone you trust, letting you know that you are not going to left alone to endure this pain. It may come from the kindness of a stranger, offering a place to stay, a donation to a cause, or a hot meal when you haven’t had one in a long time. It may come from your friends, banding together to support you through whatever you are dealing with. It may be your family’s steadfast and sure support and love staying with you.

While feelings like ‘Saudade’ are a real and often painful part of our lives, we are not meant to endure it alone. We are not meant to be defined by it. We find hope through it and find a way out of the depths of that feeling. We find our light at the end of the dark tunnel.

“We are not our scars

We are found in the beauty

Of their healing”

– Renee Yohe, Purpose for the Pain.

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