“We can obey commandments, believe doctrines, and attend church services all our lives and still daily lose our souls if we run from the necessary cycle of loss and renewal.”
At the first stroke of the guitar on our live Facebook chapel, tears filled my eyes. It was unexpected and caught me off guard. Not unlike the moment I received a text from a parent mentioning the sweet discussion she’d had with her son over our literature book. I was sad to not lead that discussion, yet thrilled mom and son were connecting over such beautiful ideas. And, then I wept after my first zoom call with my students. These moments seem small in the midst of the heartbreaking reality that people are dying, and dying alone. Yet with that in mind, it is a strange mixture of emotional overwhelm in adjusting to a new norm. Emotions we may be tempted to gloss over or numb in any number of ways. This undoubtedly is the deep sorrow of grief.
Typically grief is the result of someone’s death but, we experience this same emotional process with any great loss. We grieve. This is a season of great loss to one degree or another for all. The loss comes in any number of forms: provision from a job, connection with people we love, or structure to our days, to name just a few. The weight of it is real. I take comfort in simply naming it.
In a recent article, Richard Rohr said, “All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain.”
Today is Good Friday, observed as a ‘day of grief’. I’m giving myself permission to grieve, to grieve what is lost or may never be the same. Being okay to sit in the pain and discomfort can awaken and transform us if we let it. If we aren’t open to processing it, we simply pass our pain on to others. Healing requires us to allow ourselves to fully experience the feelings of loss. When we release our grip of control we can more fully anticipate and experience the gift of Resurrection. Jesus is in the business of ‘bringing back to life.’ He restores! Maybe not what you expected, or thought you needed or even wanted. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But, grief will teach us all.
In the meantime, what will we do with our pain? Can we hold to a vision of renewal? In our vulnerable state, what might we be awakened to with fresh eyes?
In Isaiah 58:11-12:
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-
Firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well- watered garden,
A gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
Rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
Restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate
Make the community livable again. (MSG)