Other Love

In grief we are very suggestible. Sometimes we take our emotional cues from the relationship of others to the one we grieve who has died. When “should” takes on larger than life or larger than death proportions, often we set ourselves up for an experience of grief that feels neither personal nor authentic.

The Love of God

In grief there's a kind of fluid balance between fear and love.

Grief at Lent

Lent is a time of spiritual introspection and self-examination that leads to the renewal of our faith and a closer relationship with God.

Comfort

Comfort is an experience.

Transactional Joy

When we grieve at Christmas, often there is a vast disconnect between superficial merry making and the transactional joy of Christmas. We may be surrounded by friends, family, and those we call family, yet we may be unable or unwilling to enter into the organized good cheer of a seasonal gathering. We ask, “What’s wrong with me?” because we are longing for the presence of our loved one. Transactional joy cannot be experienced in emotional isolation. There are always two parties to any transaction.

No Fear in Love

Love and fear share a kind of polar opposite kinship. When we grieve, most of us experience the kind of fear that has little to do with love. Some of us live with a kind of chronic fear that feels like quiet desperation. Some of us live with low-grade fear that causes us to be constantly on the defensive. Though some of us live through grief with a fair amount of equanimity, unexpectedly we may be waylaid by episodes of fear that threaten to unhinge us completely. Grief, fear, love—strange bedfellows indeed.

Grief Delayed

When tragedy and disaster cause the death of a loved one or destroy our home and property, circumstance usually allows little time to do the emotional and spiritual work of grief. We are in crisis mode: those who die are victims, those who survive are victims. Most are emotionally and physically overwhelmed by the basic tasks necessary to make it through even one more day of upheaval and chaos. Yet despite immeasurable loss, we get up, put one foot in front of the other, and do all we can to sustain life, even as we try to create some order or reason out of what has happened.

The Faith of Grief

The hardscrabble faith of grief is altogether different from an unbruised faith that has not been tried and tested by a firsthand experience of death, life’s most certain inevitability. If our world has been inverted by the death of one we love, for a while our faith may seem muddled as we ask hard questions that test the truth of what we say we believe.

Thousand-Person Army

When we take ourselves out of the crosshairs of daily life and gradually begin to focus again on life going on around us, this is a sure sign that we are making progress in grief. We see things differently and appreciate the beauty of nature in a different, more spiritual way. We consider the world and appreciate that we are part of a continuum of sorrow and joy, disappointment and hope, loss and victory, death and life. We better understand the heart and mind of God because we have grieved.

The Penny

As I returned to my car from a quick stop at the drug store, I happened to look down at the pavement and saw a penny. Though it was dirty, scratched, and almost unrecognizable as a coin, I picked it up and put it with the other change in my wallet.

Reflexive God

No matter where we live or when we were born, we are part of a generation of amateur fixers. There is at least one hardware or home improvement store in almost every community that insists that we can “do-it-yourself”. Even those who lack a certain manual dexterity or have little aptitude for repairs and renovations are somehow convinced by programs that showcase home remodeling that we should be able to tackle any project, large or small. We are assured that if we just follow a few easy steps, the finished product will be perfect. To understand the flawed premise of “you can do anything yourself” marketing, one has only to stand in line at the return counter of any hardware store and look at the people with failure written all over their faces. Next to the register there is usually a discreet display of business cards for professionals with the skills to fix most any botched job.

Colorblind

One of the things I remember most about my father is that he was the most colorblind person I have ever known. His eyesight was perfect, but his heart and mind simply did not recognize black or white, brown or red. He chose to be a person who would, “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). Though my father was not a saint nor was he by any means perfect, he did not tolerate racism or bigotry of any kind. He lived in the conviction of faith that we should “love one another” (John 13:34 NRSV). Everyone. No exceptions.
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