Ash and Starlight

Connecting with God, each other, and ourselves in the broken and beautiful

Friday Thoughts and Prayer

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My view of Lake Michigan on an icy morning run 

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

Compassionate One,

Be with me in my goodbyes.

When I’m asked to

open my hands and

release what I’ve held –

held tightly

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.

Amen.

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

14 Comments

  1. I feel like I am in the pre-grief stage. My two siblings both have serious health issues. One has heart issues and has already had a valve replaced and another heart procedure recently to stabilize heart rhythm. The other has Alzheimers and has taken a turn for the worse recently probably because of back pain. Very confused and is in hospital section of her residence. My adult child and I both have our own health issues. Since our parents have been gone for a very long time we have turned to each other for support. It’s so difficult imagining their not being here.8

  2. I feel like I am in the pre-grief stage. My two siblings both have serious health issues. One has heart issues and has already had a valve replaced and another heart procedure recently to stabilize heart rhythm. The other has Alzheimers and has taken a turn for the worse recently probably because of back pain. Very confused and is in hospital section of her residence. My adult child and I both have our own health issues. Since our parents have been gone for a very long time we have turned to each other for support. It’s so difficult imagining their not being here.

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Melissa. I’m so sorry for the heartache you and Amy are holding right now over your siblings. It is indeed it’s own stage of the grief process, which can start before (long before) a physical death happens. You are in my heart.

  3. Dearest Arianne: As usual your words convey calm, wisdom, and healing power. Bless you. I look forward to the publication of your book.

    • You are such a well of wisdom and beautiful words, Nancy, and I’ve learned much from you. I can’t thank you enough for the affirmation and encouragement you’ve offered me at every juncture. And you, my friend, are living the grief journey with such incredible fortitude. Feel my strongest hug.

  4. “Hibernating in the hush. . .” That is stunningly eloquent! Bless you, Arianne!

  5. Nature is so full of God’s wisdom for those who stop long enough to notice. The words you gave to your early morning observation are a balm for those grieving. Each one perfectly placed just as God’s healing grace seeps in over time.

  6. Your message on grief is very timely for us. We just found out Friday evening that a very special member of our family unexpectedly died that day. Your words have been very comforting. Thank you and God bless you.

  7. Arianne, I needed to read this today. I thank you so much for writing your heart so that my heart may be comforted. Lois

    • Thank you so much, Lois, for your encouraging note. I’m so grateful you experienced God’s comfort through this reflection. Your own writings and creations have been of such comfort to me.

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