Reflections on coming unbound, being freed individually and communally as a form of healing: themes from John 11

John 11:44 – Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi


Fierce Blessing — Jan Richardson

Believe me when I say
there is nothing
this blessing would not do
to protect you
to save you
to encompass you.

This blessing
would stand between you
and every danger,
every evil,
every harm
and hurt.

This blessing
would dare
to wade with you
into the waters that come
bearing life.

It would make
a way for you
through the waters that come
threatening death.

I cannot explain
how fierce
this blessing feels
about you
but I can tell you
it has more than pledged
itself to you;
it would lay down
its life for you
and not once
look back in regret
nor go in sorrow
for what it has chosen
to give.

And you—
so deeply blessed,
so utterly encompassed—
what will you save
in turn?

Not because
it is owed
but because
you cannot imagine
failing to pass along
this grace
that casts its circle
so wide,
this love
that flows
so deep
through this perilous
and precious life.

Simplicity is Freedom — Mary Oliver

When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.

As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took

I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own

nothing – the reason they can fly.

Healing as Form of Liberation

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. — often attributed to Stephen Covey, but he’s on the record explaining that he read it in a book while on vacation in Hawaii and was not able to find the book or attribution again, so it may be:  Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, or B.F. Skinner. 

I define healing … as the intentional process of reconciling internalized trauma and conflict to position oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually to address continuing challenges in daily life, especially those brought on by varying forms of oppression. Healing is also a liberatory political practice — the politics of emancipation, self-determination, dignity, participation, and equality — for all. Lastly, healing can happen in solitude or community. — Mayowa Sanusi, full article:

Let us work to heal the earth, and to heal one another by redoubling our fight to free the land and its peoples, to free all political prisoners, to build a beloved community of liberation where all can find the enduring peace which is the fruit of our struggles for structural justice. — Matt Meyer

In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected. — Pope Francis

The only way to experience healing and peace is to forgive. Until we can forgive, we remain locked in our pain and locked out of the possibility of experiencing healing and freedom, locked out of the possibility of being at peace…. . — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

We all think we are freely and consciously making our own choices when, in my experience, most people live most of their lives unconsciously! Before transformation, we are basically sleepwalking, going through the motions on the surface of life, which is why spiritual teachers like Jesus and Buddha tell us to “wake up.” When our ego or small self is in charge, we are not free; we are being ordered about by our preferences, our likes and dislikes. Is it really liberating to believe the world revolves around us or conversely, that we must hold it all together?
      As we engage in contemplative prayer and allow God to transform us through great love and great suffering, we are reminded of our inherent connectedness. We are liberated from thinking of ourselves as somehow separate from everyone and everything else, including God.
     After an authentic God encounter, everything else is relativized. There is only one Absolute and it is God, not us or our culture. Both are de-centered. Through prayer we find God both deep within us and all around us. We know our True Self is part of God and lives in God. We are no longer limited by our culturally conditioned reactions but have access to a greater Source of love and ultimate freedom.
     … There is no authentic freedom if we do not also consider the rights and well-being of others. As Pope Francis reflects:  Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate. . . . 
      The transformed person finds freedom in the service of Life and Love.  Your life is not about you. You are about life! — Richard Rohr, Center Action and Contemplation, full article: Justice invites us into a generative and transformative journey of curiosity, care and healing for ourselves and each other. It honors all of our brilliance, holds tension, and demands we claim, create, and hold our own safer spaces. It also acknowledges contradictions we know that each of us has, generationally consumed patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism as a form of both trauma and survival. It is not a space for assimilation, rather it is a space where we love radically and lean into our interconnectedness and where we care for ourselves and each other. — Black Freedom Collective

Freedom to Choose is all about redemption and the power of second chances. We assist men and women in stepping free of past identifications as “criminals” and re-identifying themselves as valuable, responsible members of our society. Both qualitative and quantitative results indicate significant benefit for individuals who participate  — Freedom to Choose Porject, full article: affects every single area of your life, whether you are aware or not. When people come to treatment for trauma, they are often shocked by the ways their freedom has been limited by trauma. Moving through treatment is like unpeeling the layers of an onion. As treatment and therapy progresses, as healing progresses, the layers are continuously revealed. With each new layer of recovery comes a new layer of freedom….
     We can never be completely free of our trauma because trauma lives within us as a part of our life. We can be free from the control trauma has over our lives by choosing to recover. Recovery gives us the power to run our own lives, not our trauma. That is a freedom we never forget. — The Guest House, full article:

Growing up in Baghdad during the Iran–Iraq War and the Gulf War, she remembers how her parents allowed her and her younger sister to freely paint the doors, ceiling, and walls of what they called the “play room” in their house.
     “Saying to a nine-year-old that you can paint anywhere in this entire room, it was just everything,” she told Artsy from Los Angeles, where she is based. “Imagine living in a space where you can’t just be you. You have to be aware of everything around you, because if you’re not you can actually be killed. So to have that kind of freedom in that context was emancipatory. It meant a lot and I think that was the first push towards where I wanted to go.” — Hayv Kahraman

Admit —> Surrender —> Freedom. Freedom is the result of emotional healing. It is the end goal. Freedom provides choice and choice provides options for which actions and behaviors you want. The freedom of emotional healing is a freedom that is difficult to describe in words as it creates a new way of living …
      This stage of freedom reminds us that change can occur and increases hope and faith that change is possible. … During this stage, a feeling of gratefulness or thankfulness becomes more apparent and deep appreciation for the growth occurs. … — Dave Piltz

Love’s Exquisite Freedom —Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away
the chains of fear from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Simplicity as Freedom — Sr. Jose Hobday (Seneca elder, a prominent Roman Catholic leader, and a Franciscan sister who adheres fully to St. Francis’s radical ideal of holy poverty.)

Freedom is about choices: Freedom to choose less rather than more. It’s about choosing time for people and ideas and self-growth rather than for maintenance and guarding and possessing and cleaning. Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle. It is about poetry and dance, song and art, music and grace. It is about optimism and humor, gratitude and appreciation. It is about embracing life with wide-open arms. It’s about living and giving with no strings attached. . . .
      Simple living is as close as the land on which we stand. It is as far-reaching as the universe that makes us gasp. Simple living is a relaxed grasp on money, things, and even friends. Simplicity cherishes ideas and relationships. They are treasured more because simplicity doesn’t cling nor try to possess things or people or relationships. Simplicity frees us within, but it frees others, too. . . . Simple living is a statement of presence. The real me. This simplicity makes us welcome among the wealthy and the poor alike. . . .
      We will not be happy living selfishly in a small world. We must live in awareness and in association with the whole real world. Our universe. Our cosmos. Our environment. Our earth. Our air. Our water supply. Our country. Our neighbor. Our car. Our homes. All are part of simple living….


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. − Reinhold Niebuhr

Facing the Future
Every journey begins
With but a small step.
And every day is a chance
For a new, small step
In the right direction.
Just follow your Heartsong.
− Mattie J. Stepanek (then 8 years old)

COMMENTARY on LAZARUS: Unbound & Returned to Life

In John’s mind the raising of Lazarus becomes a parable of the new life that one must receive through Jesus Christ. If that does not happen, that is, if one sees the dead man walking out of the grave and does not recognize himself or herself as the dead man or woman who needs new life, the result may be either amazement or rejection. In either case, the miracle does not do a thing for the person who is merely a spectator. It is only when the miracle story becomes my own story that the prayer of Jesus in verse 42 is answered. — Jirair Tashjian, at The Christian Resource Institute.

The dead are bound (deo of Lazarus in v. 44 and of Jesus in 19:40) in bandages. Jesus’ act of releasing (luo) Lazarus results in Jesus being physically bound (deo) at his arrest (18:12, 24). These same two words (deo & luo) are used in Mt 16:19 & 18:18 as the authority given with the Keys of the Kingdom — “to bind” and “to loose”. Could resurrected Lazarus symbolize the “loosed” (luo) and the “forgiven” (a frequent translation for aphiemi which is used in the last line of v. 44 “let him go”)? — Brian P. Stoffregen

Jesus had seemed so slow in coming. It seemed as if he was too late. But with Jesus, we find out, it is never too late. Even when we are convinced that all is lost, even when we are ready to concede to the power of death, Jesus demonstrates that there is no loss, no tragedy, no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth, that can place us beyond the reach of his infinite love and abundant life. — Elisabeth Johnson

Love is linked inextricably to death in John (“No one has greater love than this… .” 15:13; “For God so loved…” 3:16), and that is also true in the story of this family.  Their relationship with Jesus does not mean that bad things do not happen.  He does not prevent Lazarus from dying.  But he is ultimately present to them … — Rev Meda Stamper,

Contemporary theologians regard Jesus’s actions in resurrecting Lazarus as a central miracle, which sets up a series of events leading to the Crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection from the dead by His Almighty Father. —

What happens next, although it is not included in the lectionary text, is essential for understanding the passage.  Although some of the bystanders believe, others go and report Jesus to the authorities, and it is on this basis, that they decide definitively to put him to death.  The immediate way to the cross and Jesus’ own tomb starts here where Jesus is most impossibly, lovingly life-giving.  They will plan to kill Lazarus too once the word about him gets out (12:10-11). — Rev Meda Stamper,

In the dark of failed relationships, failed programs for happiness, failed dreams of beauty and happy endings.  In the entombed hopeless reality of life’s darkness, I have heard an untimely voice.  A voice that called my name. Just like Lazarus, for me life and liberation came, through the tears of Jesus and the torment of my hopelessness. I was able to stand up, against all the odds and I understood the meaning of Lazarus’ name.  It means, “God has helped” — Peter, The Listening Hermit

Jesus has the power to turn your life upside down.  Jesus offers life, but he also offers a cross.  He offers life, but only to those that would turn their life away.  He offers comfort, but only to those that mourn.  Jesus came to afflict the comfortable…
     If we don’t have at least a little bit of fear about what discipleship really means, than I’m not sure we really get it.  Following Jesus can lead people into dark places – uncomfortable, dirty, smelly places.  It can lead us into danger, and bring us into contact with dangerous people.  Following Jesus calls us to our pews and our hymns and our rituals, but it also demands that we go out into the world.  Jesus calls us to love.  And love can be difficult sometimes.
     Following Jesus means that we have to love, and its okay if that scares you a little.  It should.  It means that you’re paying attention.  It means that you have your eyes wide open to the cost of discipleship. …
     Go knowing that it can be dangerous.  Go knowing that Christ is with you.  Go knowing that the Holy Spirit will sustain you.  Go knowing that love is the only power that lasts. — Rev. Robb McCoy

And, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that Jesus still calls us out, because I still need it. I still stinketh. And some days I stinketh more than others.
      I still find myself from time to time bound up and wound up; by the expectations of others, by my own insecurities, by my sin.
     But, the promise of the story of Lazarus is that, like Lazarus, Jesus loves us. He weeps for us. He is deeply moved by us. And he brings life to our death, freedom to our bondage, and a shining light to our every darkness. — Rick Morley

Reflections on journeys: letting go, weeping, and rising again

That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
— Amanda Gorman (excerpt of poem)

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ― Pema Chödrön

Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. — Suzanne Weyn

The ultimate relationship we can have is with someone who is dying. Here we are often brought to grief, whether we know it or not. Grief can seem like an unbearable experience. But for those of us who have entered the broken world of loss and sorrow, we realize that in the fractured landscape of grief we can find the pieces of our life that we ourselves have forgotten. — Joan Halifax


BLESSING for the DAILINESS of GRIEF — Jan Richardson

Sorry I am to say it,
but it is here, most likely,
you will know the rending
most deeply.

It will take your breath away,
how the grieving waits for you
in the most ordinary moments.

It will wake
with your waking.

It will sit itself down
with you at the table,
inhabiting the precise shape
of the emptiness across from you.

It will walk down the street with you
in the form of
no hand reaching out
to take yours.

It will stand alongside you
in every conversation,
nearly unbearable
in its silence
that fairly screams.

It will brush its teeth
with you at night
and climb into bed with you
when finally you let go
of this day.

Even as it goes always with you,
it will still manage
to startle you with its presence,
causing you to weep
when you enter the empty kitchen
in the morning,
when you spread fresh sheets
on the bed you shared,
when you walk out through the door
and pass back through it

It is here you will know it best—
in the moments that made up
the rhythm of your days,
that fashioned the litany of your life,
the togethering
you will never know
in the same way again.

But I will tell you it is here, too,
that your solace lies.
It will wait for you in those same moments
that stun you with their sorrow.

I cannot tell you how,
but it will not cease to carry you
in the cadence that has forever altered
but whose echo will persist
with a stubbornness that will surprise you,
bearing you along, breathing with you still
through the terrible and exquisite
ordinary days.

— Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes
to let it go,
to let it go.

STILL I RISE— Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

TO WEEP or NOT to WEEP: Strength & Vulnerability

Weeping can be classified as either a sign of weakness or a sign of strength by what you do after the weeping. ― Ikechukwu Izuakor

It’s ok to let sadness control you. To let all frustration out. To scream, weep, be quiet. It’s ok to be human. To learn, grow & start again.― Nitya Prakash 

Grief is an opportunity to offer empathy by honouring brokenness to support healing. — Amy Price

Maybe this was now normal … Maybe every now and then he simply wept. Not in pain or sadness. The tears were just overwhelming memories, rendered into water, seeping out. ― Louise Penny

“Surely this youth will not serve our ends,” said I, “for he weeps.”
The old woman smiled.
“Past tears are present strength,” said she.
― George MacDonald

I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil. ― J.R.R. Tolkien

To weep is to make less the depth of grief. — William Shakespeare

Man, I’ve always cried too easily. I cry when I’m happy or sad. I cry when I’m angry. I cry because I’m crying. It’s weak. It’s the opposite of warrior. ― Sherman Alexie

He utterly honored his sorrow, gave in to it with such deep and boundless weeping that it seemed as I stood there he was the bravest man I had ever known. ― Kathleen Collins

Weeping is terrible for the complexion … ‘but it is very good for the heart. ― Anita Diamant

If Yeshua wept, who am I not to? ― Wayne Gerard Trotman 

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself. — Khalil Gibran

Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand. — Baruch Spinoza

He who fears to weep, should learn to be kind to those who weep. — Abu Bakr

Those who weep recover more quickly than those who smile. — Jean Giraudoux

Boys don’t cry. But they do. We do. I do. I weep all the time. — Matt Haig

I do not weep: I loathe tears, for they are a sign of slavery. — Max Beckmann

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. … On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. … When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.
― Pema Chödrön

TEARS: The Measure of Love 

Babies cry at birth because it is the first time they experience separation from love. ― Kamand Kojouri 

The greater are our affections the deeper are our afflictions, and the more we love the more we have to weep. ― J.C. Ryle

A man need not be ashamed of moist eyes when he gazes on the face of some loved one who is far away. It’s human. It shows a kindly heart, an impressionable mind. ― Dick Donovan

Among men and women, those in love do not always announce themselves with declarations and vows. But they are the ones who weep when you’re gone. Who miss you every single night, especially when the sky is so deep and beautiful, and the ground so very cold. — Alice Hoffman

Soon I was weeping—for the reservists who put their entire lives on hold when called to duty, for the military mothers who had to keep their families together all alone, for the parents, spouses, sons, and daughters who were beset with worry, for Mike, and for the soldiers who would never come home. I only meant to buy a shower curtain, and now, quite unexpectedly, right when I least wanted it, months of pent-up loneliness, fear, and frustration were pouring out in an endless churn of hot, silent tears. ― Lily Burana

Life is full of grief, to exactly the degree we allow ourselves to love other people. — Orson Scott Card

So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.  — E.A. Bucchianeri


Weeping is not the same thing as crying. It takes your whole body to weep, and when it’s over, you feel like you don’t have any bones left to hold you up. ― Sarah Ockler
 We have become
a place of long weeping
A house of scattered feathers
There is no home for us
between earth and sky.
—From Collected Lamentations
from the Night of Knives
― Rebecca Roanhorse

… for a minute the four castaways did nothing but weep, letting their tears run down their faces and into the sea, which some have said is nothing but a library of all tears in history. ― Lemony Snicket
 She wept a river of tears
holy water, sent to soften
the sharp edges of sorrow
a gentle hollowing out,
carving new chambers in her heart
a hallowed vessel
for holding sacred,
the tears of others…― Kate Mullane Robertson 
There is a certain pleasure in weeping. ― Ovid 
 Like flocks of small dark birds,
hidden parts of the self weep.
― Ruth Stone
She might have wept then, had not the sky begun to do it for her. ― George R.R. Martin

Weeping is the sacred washing of the soul in the depths of spirit.― Lailah Gifty Akita

My life has become a dismal sigh fettered by pangs of grief and anguished weeping. ― Richelle E. Goodrich

The sorrow of great and small losses is a river that runs in the underground of all of our lives. When it breaks to the surface, we might feel as though only “I” know this pain. Yet grief is a universal experience, touching caregivers, dying people and, if we look deeply, all of us. — Joan Halifax

Tears— Maya Angelou
The crystal rags
Viscous tatters
Of a worn-through soul
Deep swan song
Blue farewell
Of a dying dream.

PASSAGES: Into Life, Toward Death & Through Rebirth
We are not born
with tears.
Your first dozen cries  
are dry.
It takes some time  
for the world to arrive
and salt the eyes.
― Kevin Young Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep. — Carl Sandburg
There are no happy endings,
endings are the saddest part.
So just give me a happy middle
and a very happy start.
— Shel Silverstein

No one ever comes back from the dead, no one ever enters the world without weeping; no one is ever asked when he wishes to enter life, no one is ever asked when he wishes to leave. ― Søren Kierkegaard

I weep fer the livin’. I weep fer the dead. I weep fer the yet to be born.― Moira Young

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride. ― Pema Chödrön

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. — Tecumseh

Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men. — Quintus Ennius Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
― Mary Elizabeth Frye 
 In Judaism, it is taught that there are three stages of grief to be endured. First there is weeping, for we all must weep for what we have lost. Second comes silence, for in the silence we understand solace, beauty, and comfort from something greater than ourselves. Third comes singing, for in singing we pour out our hearts and regain our voice. ― Judy Collins

The eyes, cleansed by weeping, have obtained a clearer vision of life’s profound mystery and beneficent discipline. ― F. W. Boreham  Dear lovely Death
That taketh all things under wing—
Never to kill—
Only to change
Into some other thing
This suffering flesh,
To make it either more or less,
But not again the same—
Dear lovely Death,
Change is thy other name.
—Langston Hughes

I went inside my heart
to see how it was.
Something there makes me hear
the whole world weeping.
― Rumi 
 Suffering is traumatic and awful and we get angry and we shake our fists at the heavens and we vent and rage and weep. But in the process we discover a new tomorrow, one we never would have imagined otherwise. — Rob Bell

Weep not that the world changes – did it keep a stable, changeless state, it were cause indeed to weep. — William Cullen Bryant

One cannot weep for the entire world, it is beyond human strength. One must choose. — Jean Anouilh

I expect nothing of man, and disown the race. The only folly is expecting what is never attained; man is most contemptible when compared with his own pretensions. It is better to laugh at man from outside the universe, than to weep for him within. ― H. P. Lovecraft 

Why not admit that it is not our paramount duty to weep with all those who are weeping, to suffer with all who are sad, to expose our heart to the passer-by for him to caress or stab? Tears and suffering and wounds are helpful to us only when they do not discourage our life. ― Maurice Maeterlinck

One by one, drops fell from her eyes like they were on an assembly line – gather, fall, slide…gather, fall, slide…each one commemorating something she had lost. Hope. Faith. Confidence. Pride. Security. Trust. Independence. Joy. Beauty. Freedom. Innocence. ― Lisi Harrison

Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive. ― Haruki Murakami

Some say the ocean roars,
I hear it ever weeping.
Weep, ocean, weep for those gone before.
Weep, O sea, for the open graves that fill your shore.
― Craig Froman

I never heard weeping like that before or after; not from a child, nor a man wounded in the palm, nor a tortured man, nor a girl dragged off to slavery from a taken city. If you heard the woman you most hate in the world weep so, you would go to comfort her. You would fight your way through fire and spears to reach her. And I knew who wept, and what had been done to her, and who had done it. ― C.S. Lewis

GRIEF  Barbara Crooker
is a river you wade in
until you get to the other side.But I am here,
stuck in the middle,
water parting
around my ankles,
moving downstream
over the flat rocks.
I’m not able to lift a foot,move on. Instead,
I’m going to stay herein the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby,
rock it in my arms.I don’t want it to grow up,
go to school, get married.It’s mine. Yes,
the October sunlight wraps me
in its yellow shawl,
and the air is sweet
as a golden Tokay.
On the other side,there are apples,
grapes, walnuts,and the rocks
are warm from the sun.
But I’m going to stand here,growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb.
I can’t cross over.
Then you really will be gone.

WE RISE (excerpt) — Amanda Gorman
… These women who stand up,
knowing the wind
Not by where it is,
but where it is blowing,
Leading worlds
not by how society is
But where change is going.
We all leap forward
when one woman tries,
When she defies
with her rallying cries.
Here lies, but
does not rest, the best
Of tested women
who call us all to rise,
Speaking the truth
in this finest hour:
That to their own power,
every single woman is entitled.
But it’s how they empower
Others that makes
women’s voices so vital

— Jan Richardson

You thought you had hit every layer possible,
that you had found the far limit
of your sorrow, of your grief.

Now the world falls from beneath your feet
all over again, as if the wound
were opening for the first time,
only now with an ache you recognize as ancient.

Here is the time for kindness—
your own, to yourself—
as you fall and fall,
as you land hard in this layer
that lies deeper than
you ever imagined you could go.

Think of it as a secret room—
this space that has opened before you,
that has opened inside you,
though it may look sharp in every corner
and sinister no matter where you turn.

Think of it as a hidden chamber in your heart
where you can stay as long as you need,
where you will find provision you never wanted
but on which your life will now depend.

I want to tell you there is treasure
even here—
that the sharp lines that so match your scars
will lead to solace;
that this space that feels so foreign
will become for you a shelter.

So let yourself fall.
It will not be the last time,
but do not let this be cause for fear.

These are the rooms around which your
new home will grow— the home of your heart,
the home of your life that welcomes you
with such completeness,
opening and opening and
opening itself to you,
no part of you turned away.


Although grieving is an individual experience, there are symptoms many people share after suffering personal loss:

  • Feels physically drained
  • Can’t sleep at night
  • Forgetful and unable to think clearly
  • Noticeable change in appetite
  • Physical distress such as chest pains, headaches or nausea
  • Stays extremely busy to avoid thinking about his or her grief
  • Eats, drinks watches television, etc. excessively
  • Participates in harmful activities
  • Senses or dreams about the deceased
  • Becomes withdrawn, lonely and apathetic
  • Frequent sighing and crying

… The intensity of grief may relate to the following factors:

  • Whether the death was sudden or expected
  • Your feelings about the person who died
  • Your personality, family background, coping style and life experience
  • Your belief system and view on death
  • How those around you react and support you


Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.— Molly  Fumia

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness. — Erich Fromm

Grieving is not a disease. It is a necessity that follows no linear pattern. … shifts the perspective that grief is an illness that needs to be treated, fixed, or cured. Instead, it empowers individuals to open themselves up to allow the normal and natural responses to loss … giving themselves permission to grieve … helping … to navigate through and thrive in their own personal sense of new normalcy.— Dora Carpenter

We all face loss, and perhaps can accept it as a gift, albeit for most us, a terrible one … To deny grief is to rob ourselves of the heavy stones that will eventually be the ballast for the two great accumulations of wisdom and compassion. — Joan Halifax

The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally somebody told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move. In reality, however, when we feel suffering, we think that something is wrong. ― Pema Chödrön

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope. — Elizabeth Gilbert 

Grief’s pain is raw, chronic, unremitting, and cumulative, and we become isolated. Negative thoughts are etched below consciousness. There is no respite from the things we can’t unsee. — Amy Price

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to. — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go. — Katharine Weber

We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world — the company of those who have known suffering. — Helen Keller

… nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know …nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. but what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. it just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves. ― Pema Chödrön

There is value in that Igbo way, that African way, of grappling with grief: that performative, expressive mourning, where you take every call and you tell and retell the story of what happened, where isolation is anathema and ‘stop crying’ a refrain. But I am not ready.  — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

But community is a powerful and healing thing… in general only people who were compassionately and patiently supported thrived. They also grieved their losses, but they were empowered to invest in something outside themselves …. Many recovered people paid this forward by helping others. One way we can help is by feeling the other person’s needs without judgment.
       This is the practice of “radical empathy” that US journalist Isabel Wilkerson describes as: “putting in the work to educate oneself and to listen with a humble heart to understand another’s experience from their perspective, not as we imagine we would feel. Radical empathy is not about you and what you think you would do in a situation you have never been in and perhaps never will. It is the kindred connection from a place of deep knowing that opens your spirit to the pain of another as they perceive it. — Amy Price

CONNECTED EXPRESSIONS: Laughter, Anger & Sorrow 

It’s no accident many accuse me of conducting public affairs with my heart instead of my head. Well, what if I do? Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either. — Golda Meir

You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept. ― Kahlil Gibran

The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. — Samuel Beckett

I hasten to laugh at everything, for fear of being obliged to weep. — Pierre Beaumarchais

I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them. — Baruch Spinoza

Anger was better than weeping. ― Sophie Page

I do not weep at the world I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. — Zora Neale Hurston

I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry… just make me feel alive. — Joey Lauren Adams

We neither laugh alone, nor weep alone, why then should we pray alone? — Anna Letitia Barbauld
You think I’ll weep?
No, I’ll not weep.
Storm and tempest.
I have full cause of weeping,
but this heart
Shall break into
a hundred thousand flaws,
Or e’re I’ll weep.
—O Fool, I shall go mad.
― William Shakespeare, King Lear 

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
― Kahlil Gibran 

If I’m sad and feel like crying, I come to the swimming pool because if I cried at home, I’d cry and cry and be depressed for three days and three nights and then I couldn’t stand it and I’d swallow a load of sleeping pills. Or drive east to the sea and just keep going straight into the water. Or walk off the edge of a cliff. So, I come here instead where there’s so much water already I can weep in peace.  ― Xiaolu Guo

Anyone who has learned the Quran and holds it lovingly in his heart will ‘value his nights when people are asleep, his days when people are given to excess, his grief when people are joyful, his weeping when people laugh, his silence when people chatter and his humility when people are arrogant’. In other words every moment of life will be precious to him, and he should therefore be ‘gentle’, never harsh nor quarrelsome, ‘nor one who makes a clamour in the market nor one who is quick to anger’. ― Ibn Mas’ud 

You would not cry if you knew that by looking deeply into the rain you would still see the cloud. ― Thich Nhat Hanh


And all I can think of is “Do I think it so possible that God can raise the dead that I am willing to see that possibility even in the person who’s hurt me or who I’ve written off so completely. Can I believe it so possible that God can raise the dead that I am willing to see it in even the most despicable parts of myself that I’ve written off completely? — Nadia Bolz-Weber

There’s no beginning and no end. You don’t need to wait until the total dissolution of this body to continue—you continue in every moment. Suppose I transmit my energy to hundreds of people; then they continue me. If you look at them and you see me, well, you have seen me. If you think that I am only this [points to himself], then you have not seen me. But when you see me in my speech and my actions, you see that they continue me. — Thich Nhat Hahn

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
— TS Eliot, Four Quarters


Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. — Oliver Goldsmith, incorrectly attributed to Confucius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Vince Lombardi, Nelson Mandela

Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death. — Arthur Schopenhauer

A rising tide doesn’t raise people who don’t have a boat. We have to build the boat for them. We have to give them the basic infrastructure to rise with the tide. — Rahul Gandhi

I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now I was not always on the ground. I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me. May He be blessed for ever! Amen. — St Teresa of Avila

It is true that we are made of dust. And the world is also made of dust. But the dust has motes rising. — Muhammad Iqbal 

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way. — St Jerome

We rise by lifting others. ― Robert Ingersoll 

Hate brings me to my knees, love gets me on my feet. — Andre Agassi

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up. — Jesse Jackson

You were made to soar, to crash to earth, then to rise and soar again. — Alfred Wainwright

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