Shauna Maness Scotish Cross

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.

 

 

 

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  • Jack Douglas - Profound words. Each of our paths are different but we all wind up at the empty tomb.

  • Jack Douglas - I sure do love you too. Are you in New York?

  • Barbara Reynolds Martin - You are amazing Shauna, love you.

  • Kaysa Len Pierce - So glad you took the time to share what God placed on your heart. I have y’all in my prayers. Thank goodness the power is not in my feeble attempt to pray to a mighty God but in his awesome power to hear and answer.

El Dorado Edgar Allen Poe

i picked up a copy of a small collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s work at the thrift store.  It seemed easier to pay the $2.50 to have it at my fingertips than to search my shelves for my copy.  It was the $2.50 I’ve spent in a long time.  These words poured over my heart like water and drenched the driest places. i hope it does the same for you.

  “‘Over the Mountains
   Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,’
   The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’”

 

Oh to Ride, boldly ride.
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It seems a simple thing.  When I’m honest,  I like my thoughts to be organized, compartmentalized, with titles, paragraphs, and conclusions; all points therein expressed clearly without out lagging, unclear, or unresolved points. The reality is that life doesn’t work this way.  No matter how many times I sort my thoughts there are still some that show up in places they don’t belong.  No matter how clear I attempt to be I still muddy most waters I wade into.

Like my thoughts- I like my life and things to be sorted, organized, and compartmentalized as well.  I like to know where my sharpies are when I need one.  I find great comfort in knowing when I open the supply drawer in my kitchen (yes, that is a real thing)  I will find (at least one) pencil, ink pen, and sharpie.  Nobody better move my sharpie.  If they do- I can go to the next room’s stash, but i don’t often have to do that.   If I’ve learned anything from my Mama it’s that you never know when you may need a sharpie so you better know where you can find one.

She was brave.  She grew weary quickly.  She had been sick for a very long time.  As was her way, she didn’t look into that compartment, focusing instead of things she could do that didn’t tire her too much, keeping that compartment closed.  Genealogy and sewing, sorting, and organizing were all sub-conscience distractions from reality.  Regardless, each brought her great satisfaction.  She loved nothing more than to dig into anything and do it well.  She created systems, folders, binders, and boxes for anything she could group together.  She’s done this my entire life.  I suppose that’s why I find incredible comfort in organized places.  I am like this in every sense.  I want things to belong.  I want things together that belong.  It brings deep satisfaction to me as it did her to know where all my sharpies are.

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This has been a dark season of life.  My Mother is no longer making use of the body that I’ve known her in.  She will no longer walk up my steps and swing wide the door with her big “Well Heeeeey.”  I won’t see her moving around again as long as I live save perhaps, in a dream.  In July we were confronted with the reality of Cancer.  In it’s worst form with all it’s talons having reached into her lungs- wreaking havoc that was beyond anything any doctor could heal.  We begged God.  I begged God.  I knew it would end but I had no idea how soon it would happen.  She walked into the Doctor scared and aware something was really wrong and left with a semblance of resolve to beat it.  I knew she knew.  I could see it in her but she desperately held on to hope.  In a few short months she could no longer walk into the same doctor’s office; she went from walking to walker, walker to wheel-chair, wheel-chair to bed. Chemo to hospice, all in a matter of 5 months.  Just. Like. That.

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