Lent - when we encounter loss
"The Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
- Psalm 34:18
One of the most difficult things that all of us are discovering about now is that we are beginning to embrace our losses.
I have a number of friends who are sheltering in their homes, and my sister, who is a nurse, shared of caring for patients who have been infected with this virus the world now understands something about. Both of us live our lives caring for people, but for her, who doesn't often see the side of death that I do, admitted that she feels helpless as she and others cared for a 49-year-old woman who "they knew," could not be saved.
Our losses are staggering at this point. There is something about loss that seems to evoke our woundedness and brokenness, while bringing them to the surface, until that's all we seem to focus on.
Throughout scripture there is the reality that loss happens. There is not a single person that has ever existed that has not encountered some type of brokenness. And yet, it is the brokenness that opens one up to God's presence.
To what point must any of us reach before we acknowledge that we cannot do this alone?
Years ago while doing my Clinical Pastoral Care at M D Anderson, my supervisor, Michael Schirmacher, asked me why I smiled when talking about something very sad that had happened in my life? I had never thought about it. It was at that point that I realized that over the years, a smile had become a defense. He was onto something within me. My ability to be vulnerable was masked by something that was seen as acceptable, but was not real.
Over the weekend I shared I reread the account of the death of Lazarus. His sisters were grieving and they tell Jesus, "If you had only been here our brother would not have died."
Jesus weeps in front of those present.
The vulnerability of Christ is powerful here. There are no words to express what he was feeling or thinking. He weeps.
While many of us are wearing masks to protect ourselves against the virus at this point, but for many of us, we have worn some type of mask throughout our life to hide how we really feel.
The intentions of our heart should be something that people can see and know about us. If we are broken, or have joy, or are simply unsure, then we should be willing and able to talk openly about these things. But we don't.
Why is that?
We have become 8 second sound bytes and then we are ready to move on, but for some, the wound is much deeper and requires much more attention.
Our faith community should be a place where we can be honest. Our family should be a place where we can be completely vulnerable and know that we will remain loved when sharing our pain.
God is aware of all our troubles. Even when we can't seem to find words, our silence, and often our tears, cry out and God is there.
Being present for one another is among the most beautiful gifts we have to share with one another.
Our ability to be honest in our vulnerability is truly a blessing as well. I hope that we all may be able to be ourselves through all the times of our lives with one another, and that because of that vulnerability, we are made whole through Christ our Lord who heals all.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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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.