I’ve come to realize recently that I cry a lot, but I don’t, I don’t, I don’t cry over grief. Like, I’m not crying over the death of my father and my brothers and my mother or my other brother, or even the condition of the world or you know, or every sparrow that falls. I end up crying over beautiful things. Stephen Colbert in an interview with Anderson Cooper about grief
I remember a friend telling me that she couldn’t cry over the losses in her life because – if she started – she might never be able to stop. There had been an inordinate amount of ugliness in her childhood.
I get that. Who wants to be re-traumatized, which is what happens when we remember unspeakable pain? And yet, if we can’t cry over our deepest sorrows, I wonder if it keeps us from reaching the point when – like Stephen Colbert – we also can’t feel the joy of what’s deeply beautiful in this world. I wonder if part of spiritual maturity is having such gratitude for life that we cry more because of the beauty of what God has allowed us to witness than the shattering pain. Some moments are too sacred for words.
I pray that all of us – especially those who grieve – have those moments this week.
This is a crying week for me. Ten years ago today I was enjoying a Christmas staff party with Greek food in Chicago when my phone rang. Cindy had died in Virginia after a particularly nasty adventure with cancer. She had shared stories about her sorrows that made me marvel over her resilience. She had a lot of things to cry about, and yet we usually cried together because we were laughing so hard over the ridiculous things of life or marveling over the holy things of life. I can only feel joy today because her life was a testament to what can happen when people are treasured. The beauty of her life makes me want to weep with joy.
Ten years ago this Wednesday, the lives of innocent children and their teachers were stolen and subsequently their families were changed forever because of one of the most excruciating shootings in U.S. history.
Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Jeremiah 31:15
That verse goes on to say “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; there is a reward for your work,” says the Lord: “they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future,” says the Lord: “your children shall come back to their own country.”
When I consider the parents who lost their children ten years ago, I can’t imagine a reward that’s worth surviving one’s children. And yet, I believe that there is still hope in their future. I don’t know how it happens. Some human beings literally cannot survive the grief.
I trust that the God who knows our deepest pain in both life and death is immeasurably loving and the incarnation seals it for me. Why do I have this faith and others don’t? I don’t know. But having this faith makes me want to weep with joy.
Another podcast I really like is Kelly Corrigan Wonders and she often ends interviews with a series of questions like “When is the last time you cried?” The last time I cried was Saturday night watching this scene from Joe versus The Volcano. Joe’s got a terminal illness. He’s stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean with a woman whose life he has tried to save. And he prays:
Dear God, whose name I do not know – thank you for my life. I forgot how big . . . thank you. Thank you for my life.
God bless the grievers this week.