Lenten Devotional – Tue, Mar 2: MOURN

Tue, Mar 2: MOURN

At first pass, in English, this sounds like a blessing for the bereaved. As if it was meant only those who are grieving. Yet it encompasses more.

All by itself, grief is a defining human experience. People mourn for those who have died. According to Maxie Dunnam and Kimberly Dunnam Reisman,Sorrow and tears are part of life. The ability to cry is a gift from God. … The Bible talks about all kinds of sorrow and mourning, and it certainly makes the case that weeping and mourning are part of life. In fact, the Bible uses twenty Hebrew words and thirteen Greek words to express sadness and grief. Mourning is a natural human response.”

Yet translators say that this blessing’s intention covers a broader human experience. Perhaps we can also expand this blessing to those with mental health challenges such as depression or other conditions such as traum and loss. It embraces the broken-hearted or sorrowful.

Sometimes we express personal loss. Other times it’s societal.

Another scholar, named Boring, says those who mourn fall into the category of people who lament. Boring writes, ‘they lament the present condition of God’s people and God’s program in the world.’ They are folks dissatisfied with the current conditions of the world. They are restless, and cry out against the human experience of injustice and oppression, illness and suffering. They long for the ideals of the kingdom of heaven to unfold. They’re advocating and actively working toward transformation.

We are in holy company when we mourn. Martha Stortz summarizes the grief shown in the life of Christ as both personal and societal. “Jesus tears over the loss of a dear friend, the fate of a great city, and his own impending death establish his humanity. He knows the full range of human experience, and the comfort he offers comes from the depths of suffering.”

Then comes the word of teachers such as Rumi and the wisdom of our own Christian philosophers and guides from St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila to CS Lewis, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. They remind us to open the door to our emotional and psychological houses, and allow grief and pain to enter our hearts. Give them space. Work with them. Learn from them.

How many ways does this Beatitude name times in your life? — Rev Gail

Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house,
so that new joy can find space to enter.
It shakes the yellow leaves
from the bough of your heart,
so that fresh, green leaves
can grow in their place.
It pulls up the rotten roots,
so that new roots hidden beneath
have room to grow.
Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart,
far better things will take their place.
― Rumi

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it … ― Abraham Lincoln

Some people, they can’t just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me… I don’t know. I didn’t want to fix it, to forget. It wasn’t something that was broken. It’s just…something that happened. And like that hole, I’m just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. Sarah Dessen

Everyone keeps telling me that time heals all wounds, but no one can tell me what I’m supposed to do right now. Right now I can’t sleep. It’s right now that I can’t eat. … Right now all I seem to do is cry. I know all about time and wounds healing, but even if I had all the time in the world, I still don’t know what to do with all this hurt right now. ― Nina Guilbeau

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break. ― William Shakespeare

Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit. Lemony Snicket

Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life … You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing … Elizabeth Gilbert

Challenge or Question: How has grief or sorrow been a teacher in your life? What have you learned from it? Consider writing a letter — in a notebook or journal — to someone whom you’re missing or grieving or about an issue that is breaking your heart.

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