Daniel Nuzum's audioboos

Friday, November 2, 2012

The leaves of death: the carpet of grief

Today, watching once-green leaves now turned to russet fall from the trees with random carelessness and somehow form a carpet  on the ground I am reminded of the power of creation to point us to the reality of life and death. It is at this time of the year while children have been 'trick or treating' that many of us remember our loved ones who have died. This of course brings with it a perplexing sense of the pain of loss and absence as well as the very comforting sense of presence and connection. They are conjoined companions on the journey of grief.

Today, 2 November -commonly called 'All Souls'- in the Christian tradition many people will be attending services of remembrance in honour of someone close to them. At many services we will be reminded that "the souls of the faithful are in the hand of God" Wis 3:1 For some it will be to pray for them, for others it will be to ask for prayer, for others it will be to acknowledge that their loved one is now in God's hands and embrace, and for others there is a bewildering sense of not knowing what is happening or why they remember -a sense of hollowness where it is hard to know what or how to feel. Whatever our beliefs, what unites all humanity is the experience and pain of loss. Remembering together in community is a powerful experience that in itself provides a deep carpet of love, hope, support and care where there is space for the traditions and needs of all to be cherished and respected. 

Grief is an untidy journey. There is a temptation to try and package up our grief and tidy it away into some sort of ordered and controlled bookcase of emotion where we can take it out when we feel like it. Those who would try to tidy grief up have usually either never experienced loss or have run away from their grief. The reality though is that grief is an uncontrolled, untidy experience that rustles us often in the most unexpected ways and places. It can be like the whirling of a wind that scoops up scattered leaves and then creates a new carpet underfoot until the next gust appears. This carpet of grief becomes our comfort and path for the time being -however long that will be. Grief is a 'work in progress' that continues for as long as is necessary. 

Over these days as we think of our loved ones we think of our continuing sense of love and connection as well as marking the pain we feel because we miss them. Their voice, their smell, their physical presence, their companionship, even the things about them that irritated us. Grief can at times can make us feel a sense of loneliness like we have never experienced before. This is indeed the valley of the shadow of death Psalm 23:4 Only yesterday a family member told me that the 'shroud of loneliness fell off' when they attended a service of remembrance in the hospital where their mum had died. It was the very fact of being with so many others who were also grieving that they felt less alone.

As we tread on the leaves of loss let us tread gently because we tread on holy ground. These leaves, although dead, contain within them the marks of life and nourishment for the future. These leaves of death are for now, the carpet of grief.

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer. Grant them your peace, let light perpetual shine upon them, and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

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