Grief and Glory

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The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.

Psalm 103: 13,14

This week, for my family, is one of those difficult anniversaries – the death of my sister, Lori, two years ago.

We miss her every day. And, anniversaries are hard.

My mom called me this morning. She was lying awake in her bed (in California) and remembering… and she knew I would be awake in Ireland. 

On the night Lori died, I lay in Mom’s bed with her… in a dark room in the middle of the world, grieving…

Lord, have mercy on us…  we are only made of dust… 

To love is to suffer. I don’t have any doubts about that. 

If you love someone long enough, your heart will be broken.

“The tears … streamed down, 

and I let them flow as freely as they would, 

making of them a pillow for my heart. 

On them it rested.”
-Augustine, Confessions IX, i z” 

I know that God sees me. I know that God sees us – my family…  

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘

You are the God who sees me,’ for she said,

‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

Genesis 16:13

I hold in my hand this heart of stone, found on the beach yesterday, and given to me by a friend. 

This heart in my hand.  The robins in the garden. The light and the wind. Snowdrops and crocuses, daffodils and narcissus, coming up from the earth.  

The great expanse of the ocean and sky.  And a friend leaves tulips at my door. 

I have seen the God who sees me.

And I am restless.

The Hebrew word used throughout scripture to describe God’s glory, ‘kabod,’ is derived from the root word meaning ‘heaviness’.  

Grief is heavy, and the weighty glory of God is in it. 

Love is a gift, and my sister is a gift – and her humour and faith and wisdom (and temper!) are all wrapped up in the heaviness of the glory of God.

Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote in Lament for a Son,  

“Grief is… testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides.

So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… 

Every lament is a love-song.” 

I own my grief. I hold it to my chest. Love inevitably leads to sorrow. 

Don’t be afraid to love.

Late in 2018, when Lori’s fears were confirmed, and she knew her cancer had returned, she wrote this:

“I’d like God to heal me… I know he can do it; I know he doesn’t always do it the way we want him to. But I know he can.  And sometimes he does.

“I believe God is sovereign, benevolent and wise.  He loves our family.  I have no doubt.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation. 

“God is to us a God of deliverances;
 And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death. (Psalm 68:19-20)

“I feel a combination of peace, hope, and sadness.  

“It’s my greatest wish that all of us who are living in or watching this sequel will know more deeply the nature of our One, True God.  Sovereign. Benevolent. Wise. Good.”

Peace, hope and sadness.  A Sovereign, benevolent, wise and good God.  

The heaviness of grief and glory.  Love. 

Today is all of these things.

Inhale: Blessed be the Lord

Exhale: who daily bears our burdens…

That’s what I would have said…

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