I can't seem to shake the sounds of the tender but uncontrollable sobbing from a parishioner who's just lost his mother at the ripe age of 95. (It was expected in part, but she went downhill very fast). And...it's never really "expected" when it's final. She was also the matriarch of our church.
At the same time, I can't seem to shake the silence from a close friend who's also recently lost her father, who's inundated with the details of her life, her work, her family as well as some tension among her siblings. I understand, kinda.
Lastly, I can't seem to shake the grief roller coaster I'm on, slowly and silently grieving the 1st anniversary of a 10 year friendship irreparably severed one year ago today. It triggers other losses as well. You know how it goes...
Psalm 30 reminds us that "weeping may endure for night but joy comes in the morning." I'm not a biblical inerrant, but here's a time when I'd love this to be literally true for all of us.
What is grief's shelf life? What can we "DO" to 'get through it'? How do we find those who are willing to share the burden without offering anxious silence or giving advice or disappearing?
Only God knows.
For me, the diversion of pastoring to others in their grief gives me a 'vacation' from mine own. Other's grief also helps me realize I'm not the only one not having a Summer crafted by HGTV.
I think grief is a state you're sent to un willingly, like one outside your own region, where you think no one will like you, understand you or care for you until you return home again to happy land.
But then Grace appears and calls from afar. An email from an old friend resurfaces unwittingly, or a piece of good news arrives, or work demands your undivided attention and offers you another respite from grief's treadmill.
Grief is not good ,Charlie Brown, but it joins us in membership to a community which we'd all rather not be joined, but where others can speak our language...Or sit with us as a non-anxious, loving presence. It also gives us compassion for others and their places of darkness and loss.
And then of course...there's Paul. Say what you want about him. He deservedly gets a bad rap for being ignorant/obnoxious about women and dramatically adding to the disenfranchising of the Gay and Lesbian population. But still, he is able to let God's message, through Jesus Christ, speak in Romans beyond his own judgemental din.
" I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us."
Right. I'll try to remember that before I order my next pepperoni, extra cheese grief-numbing pizza.
But Paul goes on.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39
No small gift that Rom 8 is part of the lectionary for the last Sunday before I have 3 Sundays out of the pulpit (save of course the memorial service in the middle of my vacation, for the Matriarch).
Whether you are grieving with others or for yourself or by yourself, or if you've finally surfaced from grief's grip and can ride the waves without getting sucked down by the undertow of loss, may this scripture bring comfort to you....and to those whom you love... and to those whom no one loves.