So many people I know are living through some excruciating things. A number of them are grappling whole-heartedly with grief over death, seeking to honor the space they need for all the emotions while simultaneously receiving the task to relearn their world. It is hard work to live with integrity and integration amid loss. The pressures to compartmentalize, ignore, or control are so real and so strong. But the person who lives in wholeness decides to scoop in everything with open arms. We can never selectively numb.
This winter has been much different than the last, and I was surprised to witness how much of Lake Michigan was frozen over on my chilly run the other day. There’s an overlook at which I love to pause on most of my runs, and in doing so that day, I noticed something. While from a distance the lake seemed like a frozen block of stillness, there was movement. In looking a bit more closely, I saw the ice formations on the lake’s surface gently swaying – not much, but a slight back and forth, responding to the nudges of the current below.
What appeared to be static and hard was actually breathing in a quiet, small way. I’m not sure how long the winter will last, but even as things look frozen and unchanged, there are breath, life, and little tiny movements keeping everything from getting stuck.
For all of you grieving a goodbye today, I bless you in your small breaths and movements. In the strong victory of the choices you will make today to do the next thing, even as your world feels frozen over. Free-flowing, strong waves eventually come, but this is not the time nor the season to really even think about it. Hibernating in the hush is where healing must begin.
This prayer is one I wrote for my forthcoming book, Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life to be published later this year by Chalice Press. There are a few Scripture references following the prayer to which you can turn for even deeper comfort and connection with the One who holds you in your grief.
When I’m grieving a goodbye
Be with me in my goodbyes.
When I’m asked to
open my hands and
release what I’ve held –
place your peace
between the fingers.
Put your comfort in
the cracks and crevices
of my heart.
Use my falling tears
as nourishment for
this ground of grief,
bearing fruit for
a new season which
also promises sweetness.
Matthew 5:4 * John 12:24 * Revelation 21:3-5
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into
the earth and dies, it remains just
a single grain; but if it dies, it
bears much fruit.” – John 12:24