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Wiping tears Away

First Wednesday of Advent:

“The Lord will wipe away

the tears from their eyes…

On that day you will say

‘This is our God;

we have waited for Him

to save us…’”

Isaiah 25.

"It’s the dailyness of grief that I find most daunting.

Morning after morning I wake into a world

that does not have Gary in it.

I will never find him making breakfast in the kitchen,

waiting to enfold me as we begin the day.

I will never sit down across from him at the table.

I will never call out to him from my studio

as he works in his studio.

I will never walk into the house and hear him say, Hello, Sweetheart!

I will never walk out of the house with him

and move together through this world,

these moments,

this life

in the ways we so loved.

And still, it is in those same moments that grace finds me.

It is in those same moments that solace steals in,

working its way into the everydayness

that can be so daunting

but in which love still lives,

waiting to enfold me as I begin the day.

Sitting itself down across from me at the table.

Visiting me in the studio.

Welcoming me every time I walk into the house

and blessing me every time I leave it.

Breathing with me as I find

new rhythms,

new patterns,

new doorways

in every single day."

© Jan Richardson.

Prayer While Grieving

Praying during a season of loss can be hard.

When I think of my own seasons of loss

or of listening to others’ prayer during their seasons of grief,

I can think of multiple descriptions of prayer that sounded something like:

I cannot even sit down to pray,

because my mind races everywhere when I try to pray.

Being still is hard, because so much hits me at once

that I don’t know where to start.

I am not even sure if God is there or hearing me in my pain.

Prayer feels dry and empty.

I cannot be still or even sit still.

Here are two things I try to remember myself

and also offer to others who are in this season.

1. Pray as you can, not as you can't

How I used to be able to pray might not work right now.

I can remember one season of my prayer life

when I could not sit down and be still,

my go-to prayer method,

because I was overwhelmed with a loss.

My spiritual director at the time invited me not to beat myself

for not praying the way I always had

and suggested trying something new,

While the stillness of prayer did not work for me,

physically moving and talking to God

or just being in nature and walking did.

2. Talk to God openly and honestly, even if in short spurts.

Our tendency sometimes is to stop praying altogether

when it no longer feels the same or our prayer life changes.

This can spin us into desolation when we stop praying completely.

I find it is helpful simply to talk to God often in heartfelt, honest conversation.

Upon hearing a friend died,

I held on to this type of prayer for weeks after her death.

I would go about my day and remember her

and then talk to God briefly about what was on my mind.

Maybe it was a prayer of thanksgiving for a memory

or the gift of her friendship.

Other times, I might feel angry she was gone.

Sometimes, I would simply weep and talk to God

about how much I missed her.

All our conversations were short but honest.

Eventually, the rawness of a new loss subsides a bit,

and as it does, we can return to a season of prayer

in which we can sit still for longer,

and we can face the silence again.

Until that time comes, though,

we can continue on in our prayer lives

as gently as possible,

trusting that God will welcome us back

every time we come.

“Let the bells jingle” by Helen Jesty (Naomi House)

”Let the bells jingle but make time for the tears to fall. Eat, drink and be merry but do not go hungry in that inner place. Rest, reflect and remember. Be true to yourself. Many of us can’t play happy families at this time of the year.

December is for a difficult diagnosis

as well as dreaming of a white Christmas. Sometimes the light no longer shines in the darkness. Yet a kindly word, a bird in flight, a tree alive with hoar and hips can drown out despair and kindle determination to move on. Dig down deeper than the tinsel to the place where hope is found. Maybe, just maybe, the flickering flame will be fanned gently into fire.”

Consoling God, who can turn darkness into light;

Be a source of strength to those who mourn,

with the assurance that one day

we shall be reunited with those who have gone before us,

through Him who wipes away every tear,

the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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