Grief is like God.
At least that’s what I keep hearing in my head over and over. When I hear things like this in my head it’s been my experience that the words I’m hearing are from God. In keeping with the pattern of communication: I hear words internally, feel them in my bones, in the deepest places of my soul, and then try to sort them out.
“Grief is like God.”
“Then what are you like, what is this i’m feeling?”
“It is both beautiful and terrible.”
I don’t think I could describe God any better.
Beautiful and Terrible.
In the same space in the very same moment, it is a great paradox.
In the same way, as I experience grief I am in the same space in the very same moment angry- yet overwhelmed with love and thanks.
Grief is defined as a cause of deep sadness. To grieve is to to feel or show deep sadness over something. My mother’s sickness and death has caused a deep sadness in me (and many others) that is showing itself in the strangest places. The Beauty is clear in a million ways I can still see her and in how I hear her all day long; I can find her in almost every little thing I do. The terrible part is: what we have of the woman who stood among us like a great wonder of the world- even among powerful sky-scraping triumphs in architecture, feels like ground zero. It’s causing me to look at my heart in new ways and in old ways too.
I believe that Jesus really was dead- that he actually died on a cross similar to what we read of in historian accounts, the Holy Bible, see in paintings, books, and on television. I also believe that the power of God that created our Universe from nothing and authored this galaxy (and the billions of others) raised Jesus from the dead. I believe he was dead and made alive again. This has incredible implications in my life and heart. I didn’t always believe this. I mostly believed that Jesus was real because his life is recorded historically by people who weren’t religious at all. I hadn’t really every thought the Christian story through. I hadn’t really given a second thought to what the majority around me believed about Jesus. I didn’t begin thinking about those things until their beliefs started being projected onto and into my life. These beliefs were being used to attempt to make me feel better when I felt bad or feel bad when I wasn’t being good. It felt manipulative and wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I didn’t grow up trusting religious people. I still have a hard time with that if I’m really honest. These projections led me into a pursuit. That pursuit led me to a real Roman cross and a real empty tomb. What the hell was I supposed to do with an empty tomb?
There was unspeakable grief caused by the Roman cross.
There is beauty and terror in an empty tomb.
How do we grieve death, truly grieve it- if we believe Jesus conquered it? Why do we hold onto the pain of loss during the time we have left on earth to live- if we believe that our lives on earth are a vapor? (that’s what the bible says in James 4:14) I’m not sure.
What I know is people give it their best shot. It’s hard to communicate why we love who we love even when we clearly see them, have experienced life along side them, and intimately know them. Add eternity, the ineffable (one of my favorite words ever. I learned in a painting class from a guy who was/is? an Atheist and taught me more about God than he could imagine) God, and our propensity to make everything about ourselves- and it’s a cocktail of disaster. We get it wrong- a lot. We are led by the wrong motives- a lot. We miss Jesus- a lot. We miss the cross- a lot. We certainly miss the empty tomb- a lot.
That’s where the hope is. Not in the place that we finally arrive and skeptics like me finally trust our words, or we finally figure out how to crack the seemingly impenetrable wall of resistance to religion or any other spiritual thought…
the hope is all the way back at the empty tomb.
we all have to deal with the empty tomb.
Even when we don’t – we do; it’s beautiful and terrible.