While it seems there is never any shortage
of heartache and grief,
there are times when it feels like
things come at us in bunches.
At lunch at the college deli yesterday,
two friends and I shared concerns:
we’d recently learned that another friend’s husband
was given a short time to live,
a resurging of cancer leaving little chance or hope
of much life this side of the river.
One of the two knew too well that particular pain,
having lost a son a few years ago—
a raging rush that took him in less than a month—
and the other had just buried a cherished mother-in-law,
and yet another friend here at the same college
about to bury his father.
There are times when we find the waves of grieving
sweep down upon us with force and fury,
a crushing weight,
the stinging of salt water in the eyes,
an impossible swelling in the throat,
a deafening roaring in the ears
that seems to block out every near sound
as we sink, drowning in the emptiness.
And yet we know that we have made it through
every other thing that life brings our way,
that faith and friendship, and force of will
still work their power within us.
That though we may occasionally walk with a limp,
we are not crippled,
and though we may sometimes
be bent beneath the load of sorrow,
we have somehow always received
grace for the day and strength for the morrow.
And so we pray for healing,
for the revealing work of Divine Direction within us,
accepting that we will be shaped
by those things that beset us,
but refusing to be disfigured by regret.
And though we cannot help but bear the marks
of battles we have survived,
even in our pain we will gain greater caring for others,
we will take measure of grace and sharing
and refuse to be defined by our scars.
Hoping against hope,
we know that even our woundings will bring healing.