A Time for Weeping…
I have been feeling that this is a season for to “weeping with those who weep,” an injunction from Christian scripture. There is so much grief in the world, cosmic and personal. Then, as I got ready to write, an article appeared in a periodical for Christians, from a pastor, exploring just that practice. 20 pastors gathered together to explore what it means to weep with those who weep in their pastoral role in a time so filled with weeping–global, ecclesiastical, national, personal. (Christian Century, August. 10 2022, Mountains of Grief, Plantlnga, p. 12 ). I was touched and challenged by the very courage to gather together to be honest around such a poignant practice, and was further encouraged by the humility that characterized their gathered wisdom: no bromides, no one-size-fits-all answers, no pat solutions, no spiritualized responses that had been of use in another time and place.
So it was with that affirmation that I began to explore what that charge mans to me–a retired clergy person, who is living with great care about COVID, a threat to someone my age, and someone whose family has high risk health issues, yet someone who still has connections to those from a lifetime of accompanying so many on the journey of Spirit. In addition, right now, I am not given to actual liquid tears in the way I was at younger ages–teens, early motherhood, early ministry. How do I weep for the whole suffering world that God love? for the particular ones I have been given to love in my life?
This week we suffered a loss in our extended family. As in many modern middle class families, we were not close, either geographically or emotionally. Yet, along with John Donne, we had to acknowledge that “each…death diminishes me.” And that for those who were much closer, there was weeping–for what was, for what wasn’t, for “things done and undone;” we needed to pay attention. So how am finding ways to weep, metaphorically if not physically?
I begin by acknowledging that this is indeed a time for weeping. There is loss, there is pain, there is guilt, there is grief. I see and honor that–for myself and for the one who weeps, with the knowledge that each one grieves in their own way And I pray! I pray for peace and a comfort, for a sense of Holy Presence, for resources to be available for the weeper’s needs. Then, I pray for discernment as to my next action to that one: should I call. write, send a token? should I make a gift in memory of the loss? who might need or want to hear from me? would it be welcome or intrusive? If the weeping is for a death or great loss, the words and sensibilities that I might share cannot be words of advice or bromides or explanations, maybe rather remembrances of good times, affirmations and graces. Could I listen deeply and do nothing except be there, virtually or in person?
As this era of human life rolls out in these days of unknowing, I see more and more opportunities for me to practice weeping with those who weep. And I pray that I will be one who is able to respond to that need with trust, peace and grace.