An ocean of grief has overwhelmed us. It comes as an enveloping cloud, a flood, an avalanche, burying us, immobilizing us. We sit dazed each night before the television, trying to grasp each death among the thousands. We try to make sense of it in charts and graphs, a blizzard of statistics, masking each beloved person lost to individuals and families. We study columns of numbers to try to make sense of our loss. Each grief reveals itself as but the shadow of a love whose bright life has limned the darkness, helping us chart the way in the night times of our souls.
Each grief is the face of a remembrance, each loss the negative of some bright picture anchored in our mind. And as the grief grows, we even alter memory to assuage its pain. Just as memory founds grief, grief can re-found memory, often in distorted ways that hide us from ourselves and each other. But grief can also open up a search for right remembrance of what we have lost. Without a righting of our memory we cannot know a grief that renews our capacity for love, can open up a future that can transform our past.
Our citizenry is now ridding itself of a leader who evidenced neither love nor grief and who constantly revealed lust and rage, grievance rather than grief. And so he presented an utterly false memory of a greatness that never was, creating a future that is a black hole of our despair. Many of my fellow citizens embraced a false memory to erase their grief and sense of loss. But at the same time, so many more have now begun to engage in the pilgrimage of right remembering—about the horrors of slavery, the blight of racism, the ruthless expropriation and exploitation of our land, the greed that obliterates justice and compassion, the violence that puts to death many for the profit of the few.
The death and destruction of this pandemic has opened up a torrent of grief that can become a light into what we truly love. It can reveal a love that truly embraces us all in the body of this earth. Just as grief is a testimony to a love lost, so it can also become the seed of a hope that is not rooted in our self-love but in the purposes of the love that created all, including all that we have lost. So it is a time to embrace our grief like it is a little baby full of the potential to draw out new love, new pathways of giving, new wonder at what can unfold in the creative heart of life. It is a time for us to grieve, so that we can love more fully. Let us grieve, so we can truly hope. It’s coming. It’s advent.