God is close to the brokenhearted – psalm 34:18
the tragedy in connecticut has ripped apart our hearts. i am so sad & overwhelmed with the magnitude of this reality. when i kissed the twins goodnight last night after they were already asleep i just started bawling, imagining those precious parents and never kissing their babies goodnight again. in so many ways, there are no words, just cries of our hearts.
last night i looked at facebook for a short while and decided quickly that was a bad idea and quickly logged off–too many posts about mike huckabee & gun laws for me.
i also understand that these kinds of unfathomable tragedies happen often around the world–to children, to grownups–and so much of it feels so far away that we don’t even notice it.
for advent at the refuge we are talking about light & i am reminded yet again how darkness is always trying to prevail here on earth. it can’t win. it can’t ultimately win. but goodness gracious, the pull is so strong.
how we navigate through tragedy & seek the light in the darkness looks so different for all of us. we all have to find our own unique way of coping, but i think there might be some things that aren’t-so-helpful and things that might be.
as we move forward into the weeks & months ahead, i want to try to practice and remember the things that help.
here are a few things that might help us find our way forward:
1. share honestly how we are feeling in some kind of safe space. we don’t always have to use words, but may we find relationships or sacred space where we can be honest, we can be quiet, we can listen, we can vent, we can have no words, we can cry, we can lament, we can create, we can do-whatever-we-need-to-grieve-in-our-own-way.
2. don’t compare our feelings or responses to others. it’s easy to feel like maybe we are grieving too much or somehow aren’t sad enough. we all process differently & there are no right or wrong answers on ways to grieve. some people can feel like they are way too upset and undone for something so far away & others can feel cold because maybe we haven’t cried enough. the most important thing is to not compare and just be true to where we are at. there’s no timeframe for grief.
3. instead of trying to engage our heads in a theological tug-of-war, cling to one thing that feels true about God in our hearts right now. some will do fine with putting certain pieces together theologically and that will help them, but for others of us, it’s just a little too much to bear. i think holding on to one true thing that brings hope is enough. for me, it’s God’s emmanuel-ness, with-ness in the darkness, the promise that no matter what God will never leave us or forsake us, and that Jesus is always close to the brokenhearted (i guess that’s two).
4. cry out to God for help & healing for those who need it. we can pray and cry out to God with words or with groans in our hearts on others’ behalf. for those who have lost so much. for those who are traumatized. for those who are afraid. for those who are hurting. for those who are in desperate need of hope. for all the scared kids & parents in other places. for whatever stirs in our souls.
5. stay off of facebook & twitter & the news or any other places that bombard us & wear down our souls. this looks different for everyone, but it’s okay to protect ourselves that way.
6. consider “what” we can do to bring goodness & light to this dark world in some small way. this looks so differently for each of us, but it is how we can participate in overcoming evil with good, for transitioning from the we’ll-never-get-an-answer “why” question to the more helpful “what-can-we-actually-do?”one. i’m reminded of teresa of avila’s words–“Christ has no body here but ours…” we’re what this world’s got. and our flawed messy hearts & hands & feet can tilt things in a better direction.
i’m sure there are so many others so feel free to add yours. i hesitated saying anything today but maybe it’s more for me than anyone else, a way to look toward the light.
love from colorado, kathy
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ps: i will post the “when christmas is hard: ‘thanks'” post next week instead. it just wasn’t the right time yesterday.
ppss: i made these candles for a christmas present for my friends in denver who journey with people in hard places. we meet once a month to learn & reflect & support each other. they know pain & i thought it might be an appropriate word for this year. i lit mine the minute jose & i got home yesterday after hearing the news. it was a small act of taking good care of my pericardium. so i’m lighting it again right now. yes, God, your mercy, please.