When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
~ Psalm 73: 16, 17
The R.E.M. song, "Everybody Hurts," played on the radio this morning as I made my way into the city. Yesterday was a day of processing for me, after being called out the night before to be present at the death of a teenage boy on hospice, who died during his birthday party.
When I entered the home, balloons greeted me at the door, and hung from the ceiling in the home located in one of our city's low-income areas. One of the women who attended the party, dressed as a clown, sat outside the home with her face in her hands, causing the grease paint makeup to run down her neck.
A cake sat on the table, candles burnt down to the icing, leaving blackened marks, where they had burned themselves out. A reminder of the light that once was present in the home, but now, was no longer present.
As I listened to the song this morning, I remembered a friend of mine who lost his child to SIDS about twenty-five years ago. The newborn was in bed with he and his wife, and simply "died," while he slept between them.
The song, "Everybody Hurts," placed on "Replay Mode," continued to play for hours as he sat silently in the dark, unable to find the words to share what his pain felt like.
"Everybody hurts, sometimes," is not something that we can avoid. We learn early, as children, of physical pain when we fall and scrape our knees. Hopefully there is someone there to stand us up, and wipe off the dirt, and tell us, "It will be okay."
As we grow older we learn of emotional pain, that not only hurts, but changes us.
And then there is the spiritual pain that we hear of when the text describes the pain that Jesus felt as his, "spirit groaned."
Our encounter with hurt is about unmasking something within ourselves that suddenly is brought to light. Everybody hurts, sometimes, is a reality of the life that we live, and the world that we encounter. Ignoring the hurt that we encounter can cause other issues. Hurts are not something that we simply should hide from.
Our hurts are an invitation. We look for ways to understand healing. It is about grace. Sometimes it is about forgiveness. And then sometimes, it is about the silence, or the cry of our spirit.
We live in a world that expects us to "get over our hurts."
"Time heals," is often the response that I hear. I remind folks that, "No. Time does not always heals. Sometimes it simply gives us distance."
We hurt, and we grieve. Forgetting what we have experienced is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality.
While we embrace our hurts, we also begin to explore our own faith.
Everybody hurts, sometimes, is not implying that we somehow passively wait until it is our turn, or that it will simply happen. It is the reality that the imperfect world that we live in, still allows for our pain to change us. For our hurts to cause us to grow. And for our own understanding of healing to take place.
In the meantime, we hold tight and remain in God's grip...
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.