Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"All my thoughts are slow and brown..."

Over the past two months, as I continue to grieve the major loss in my life and reconfigure the contours and rituals of my own existence, I have occasionally turned to Edna St. Vincent Millay and the poetry of grief. Here is part of her poem "Sorrow" -

"People dress and go to town
I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
Or what shoes I wear."

Grieving the untimely death of a loved one can put one into the very depth of Paschal Mystery... that place deep within the tomb when no light yet creeps in. I have always said that when someone is in the middle of it, you cannot tell them of future light in a way that is meaningful to them. To be sure, there is comfort in hands to hold, in hugs, in shared tears and in good listeners. There is comfort in the liturgy of the Mass, while at the same time I am experiencing the urge to scream at God and demand to know the "why?" of this seeming betrayal.

This is especially true when the Word proclaimed begs me to argue with it. (Why when my "poor one" cried out, did God not deliver him? Or, more to the point, why did his deliverance from all his fears have to be into the arms of death?)

Worshiping God in the midst of grief has been a huge challenge - stretching me out of my self and into the public prayer. Asking me to praise and thank a God with whom I want to argue. It is a very human place to be: knowing on one level that God loves me, at the same time I am reluctant to agree to God's apparently revised plan for me and say "Thy will be done."

This all causes me to ask: how many people in our pews are in deep personal struggle? Does their presence at liturgy signify their acceptance of God's will, or does it merely represent their assent to the struggle? How does how well we celebrate as a community help them frame their struggle in terms of the presence and action of God in their lives? Is the ritual comforting to them or, like me, does it instead pour purifying but painful salt into raw wounds? Questions. No answers....

No comments:

Post a Comment