The Long Way Home
I suppose that words, in times of loss or devastation, fall under the category of white noise. But, I have thought a lot this week about how our lives are truly a tangled web. A holy and divine sort of web--how are lungs become dependent on the breath of another when ours stops and our hearts swell, feeling the agony of our neighbors,
My own feelings have been a wild menagerie--swaying from sobs to the angst of white knuckles, to holding my breath in panic, to the ache of silence...
all of it the familiar gnaw of grief.
And even though nothing makes sense in the midst of tragedy, I still felt compelled to write and write and write EVERYTHING that I felt, because the dark is unbearingly ambiguous. There are no instructions for how to hold another's heart or hem it back together. I have learned one thing from rooms full of people gathered to remember loved ones. We all feel the loss together and we desperately need one another.
The bitterness of anger ceases and love rises to the top like a deep pool that has been stirred up. There is no longer room for pettiness; what matters is holding one another in our sorrow, because faith, even that of our brother or sister carries us beyond where logic stops.
This is what Tish Harrison Warren refers to as call-and-response relationships:
"We tell each other over and over, back and forth, the truth of who we are and who God is."
Many years ago, when I was in Kenya, I was captivated by how they sang. They sang beautifully and boldly from their bellies--from their spiritual core, even when they were broken. A friend of mine shared these words from a fellow pastor of his in South Africa:
"When Africa is happy, she sings. When Africa cries, she sings. When Africa marries, she sings. When Africa buries she sings..."
I can attest to this. They live in solidarity, in community, as one flesh and blood.
If you are not accustomed to singing in times of grief, let someone sing over you. If the dark is too dark to bear, let someone bring the light to you. If your understanding has broken down, bring a companion beside you to sit and wait out the fog. If you feel like you are holding a raging storm cloud in your belly, you are not alone. Hold and carry one another and drink down the light in small doses. Healing a heart is slow and deliberate, it only knows the long way home.