Talk on grief
Where do we meet God? Or perhaps it could be asked, where does God meet us? To meet someone is to be aware and focused in some way that allows an exchange to happen. When in our lives things are going well we can fall into the illusion that things will always remain thus. That those we know and love and our broader acquaintances, our neighbors etc., will always remain and the world in which each one of us is the center is changeless. This belief is not conscious, but to think otherwise can be daunting; for denial does play a function in our lives.
We more often than not take most of things in our lives for granted, that is, until an event happens that brings the illusion crashing down and we experience, at least for a time that our lives are in ruins. When this happens, it can seem dream like, however in fact it is a kind of waking up and for a time we most likely live in the ‘real world’. Where nothing can be taken for granted, that we can lose those we love in an instant, our own health, our own lives, our livelihood for that matter.
I believe God meets us most intimately in our tragedies, losses and especially in our grief. For it is there where we must make choices, it is in our sufferings that persist, our failures that we cannot run from that lead us to the truth of our fragility, both inwardly and outwardly. Illusions are lost, and we are thrown back on ourselves and forced, if that word must be used, to begin again to seek answers and some surcease of our pain and yes deeper than pain, grief. Grief stays with us all the days of our lives. True it lessens, but the loss of a loved one, be it a family member or a beloved friend, it is a wound that will heal partially but there will still be an inner longing for what was once a living reality.
Our faith, our beliefs are shown to us what they actually are when we lose a loved one. It can either be an agent in helping us to deal with life as it is, or it can fail us and allow bitterness to often take hold. By dealing with life I do not mean that faith lessens our suffering, in fact it may deepen it since it gives us the courage to walk through that dark valley and to slowly walk through it to the other side.
I lost a dear friend a year ago this Christmas and at the bottom of my grief there is a deep anger that I have lost someone who was important to me. A classmate that I reconnected with just a few years ago and when we did finally meet, it was as if no time past at all, even if it was almost 50 years ago. She was a friend, one that in High School I had long conversations with; which only seemed to continue after we met again. So I loved her deeply as well as her husband. It was a joy to see them interact together, a very open and loving relationship. They became young when they looked at each other, or joked. The loss for the husband is of course much deeper than mine, but comparisons are useless when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Our understanding of the nature of reality will lead us to deal with the tragedies of life that lead us to hope and trust, or to some type of despair. In the Christian faith, it is the Death and Resurrection of Christ that can slowly lead us into the mystery of human life and what it means to be pilgrims who are on the way. Mystery is not something unknown, it deals with a truth that we will never get to the bottom of, since it will deepen as we age, suffer and grow.
I remember there where times when I was taking care of William, when I was cleaning him, or feeding him, or just taking to him, that Christ Jesus would break through into the mundane aspect of care-giving. That Christ’s passion, William’s suffering, was what was taken up in his death and resurrection; as it is for all of us. That our faith points to the reality of the deep intimacy that God has with each of us. Our lives, our joys and sufferings are also those of Christ Jesus, that in showing us the Incarnation, it points to what has always been, that none of us suffers alone, that the union of love comes from God and grace is present in the most awful times of our lives….hidden but present and upholding all of us.
Jesus faced life; he in some way points to us how God meets us. In showing us mercy, God took on our sufferings, or failures, sins and by doing so allows us to live ever more fully and in the healing presence and love of God in our daily lives.
Loss is part of the journey,
as joy and companionship are,
we are moving forward,
the road often filled with suffering,
and deep heart break,
we choose to deepen our faith or not,
to seek understanding
though it will only come in ways
that points to more and deeper unknowing,
yet the flow of living waters rises,
overflowing the heart
giving strength, healing,
and an ever deeper intimacy
leading us slowly home.