This past year of ministry has been walking close to grief both personally and as I walk with so many people grieving the loss of loved ones, the loss of plans, and the loss of the way we lived before COVID. Although it may sound like a year filled with sadness, it has actually been one of the richest years of ministry for me as a pastor. The rhythm has been different: slower and more meandering and maybe that’s because none of us have tried to move through grief. Instead, we have allowed grief to be the constant presence that pulls us back to intentionality and our call to be light and love here on earth. We have moved with grief as it changes us and becomes a very real part of the way we see the world.
I can’t tell you the number of resources I’ve read about grief that delineates the process of grief as a linear outline that once you complete, you are cured of grief. There are a lot. Even as I have resisted these explanations based on my own experiences, I began to find another body of writing and resources about grief. One that doesn’t try to keep grief at bay, but instead invites grief into our lives when grief decides to take our breath away.
Because that is really what happens isn’t it? As we move away from the shock of losing someone we love, we never really move away from the one we love. Their presence in our memories, in songs we hear, in places we visit, and even in the food we eat, becomes more poignant and prominent, and even piercing. The grief of losing them becomes something in our peripheral vision that allows us to see the world anew. There are moments with our living loved ones that crystalize in our memories because we now know it’s something we will never forget. We know it is the little things and the tiny moments that connect us to another living being that is a miracle and evidence of the Divine. And it’s because we have lived and breathed and moved with grief that we witness those miracles.
And sometimes I wish the grief would move away (although I don’t wish it would move on to someone else), but even as the wish enters my thoughts, I know that moving with grief has invited me into a new rhythm. A rhythm not of the hustle and bustle of this culture, but a soul dance that began a long time ago with the Light of the World entering and interrupting our lives. And so we walk on, me and grief, discovering and uncovering the miracles that surround us this Advent and all year long.