I am now learning to grieve. And my Dad isn’t here to teach me. C.S. Lewis noted after the death of his wife that he didn’t know grief felt so much like fear. The fear I have is that I won’t grieve – or that I won’t grieve well. I have had my tears, but what is grief supposed to look like? How will I know I’ve grieved?
From the seven depictions of Christ’s crucifixion story, to the mother of Jesus holding her infant son as she stretched out her arms to the weeping worshipper, the entire chapel was an invitation to see our sufferings – our very humanity – in light of the fact that neither Jesus nor Mary were exempt from suffering, pain, or death.
As a friend put it recently, people are uncomfortable with their lack of control; if Bad Thing A can happen to you, then maybe it could happen to me – so let’s find something you did that caused it. That way, I feel safe again.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Recently Wesleyan Accent chatted with visual artist Katie Fisher about her project illustrating the struggle and grief written in the Old Testament book Lamentations.
Today, or any day, when you feel convicted of sin, don’t stay there. Don’t beat yourself up. That’s the grief that leads to death.
These hymns, like the psalms, come from or speak to different experiences – some quite specific, others more general – and they express a wide variety of feelings toward God, ranging from thanksgiving and adoration to supplication to bitter grief. The hymn I came upon that had a reference to Jesus weeping was under the heading of “For a Child in the Small-Pox.” In the midst of what would have been an agonizing time for the parents as they prayed through tears that God might bring healing to their child, Charles offered lyrics that help us to embrace this sort of grief and to not hold back in pouring out our hearts to God.
Some years ago, another friend lost her sister to suicide. She wrote to ask, “Do you think it is possible that the enemy has kept me down and in such a battle for the last year or two so he could keep me from being there for my sister?”
This is how I answered that question.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” We all have something in each list. Tonight, I want to remind you that life is a complex mixture of all three kinds of experiences…good to celebrate, bad to grieve, and ugly to heal.
Let’s all go around and say what we’re thankful for…
Your year flashes in bits and pieces in front of your mind and you search for a socially appropriate response that doesn’t include “good medical attention after a miscarriage” or “pro bono lawyers” or “insightful marriage and family therapists.”
Pass the stuffing.