During these hot, hot days of summer, I am needing to listen to the sacred words that call me to “Weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 ) It’s always been easy to “Rejoice with those who rejoice;” everyone likes a celebration. But in my life this is not a festival moment; it is a time of mourning:
- yesterday the husband of a friend died after struggling for months
- another friend was diagnosed with an aggressive and rapid disease
- others are in treatment over a long haul to stem the progression of invasive illnesses
- two long-time partners have hurt each other and their connection is in peril
- families across borders have been torn asunder by political and economic forces that are tone deaf to human spirit and blind to the image of God in each living person
- communities around the world, so many in my state, are trying to dig out, rebuild, re-imagine life after disaster–fire and flood, seeking to discern what is irretrievably lost and what can be held on to
- faith communities are redesigning themselves, morphing into new modes and mediums which seem to promise new life, yet, of necessity leave some faithful people as collateral damage in their wake
All of these particularities are unfolding in a landscape which for some seem like a strange land at best, a place where the call is to sit down by the river and weep.
Weeping is a holy spiritual practice, I believe. I observe it more internally than with actual salt tears. Yet my heart is attuned to those in real time tears. I have pondered how to weep with them. Many are far away, many need to focus on their task of getting through each day. How can I express my care, concern and solidarity?
I am musing on a few practices that I can use to “weep” as other weep:
- I can express my sorrow in a way that recognizes that the grief belongs to them, not to me, and express it sparely, authentically, not in a way that leaves them needing to care for me grief.
- I can send messages of affirmations and support–texts, e-mails, cards, phone messages–all saying that I care for them, and am holding them to the Light.
- I can visit–face to face or electronically–if that is welcome.
- I can pray that the Holy One would bring wholeness and healing, and ask that others who pray do the same.
- For the wounds of the world, I can do what I can to send money to agencies who have the resources to heal, rebuild and change hearts and minds. I can let my own voice be heard in petition and voting booth.
In whatever I do, I need to remain clear that sorrow is not the only word or the last word for us. The Psalmist tells us “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b). I often notice that a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing appear together, and I want to give each one its due. But for me, for those I love, for the world, I want to practice weeping as a passage for while, in order to clear the way for the hope of life and healing on the other side.