This weekend, our friend Chris invited us forward at the Simple Way Family Reunion to remember Will, and to recognize with a homemade liturgy that–for all of us gathered together– our time with each other is limited. It was an opportunity to kneel before a great God who gives, and who takes away. A God who gave us Ella, and took our Will. And then to stand, and embrace one another with the greeting, “While we have each other”.
Chris was reading a poem, and I lit a candle in front of a photo of Stacy and Will, and I suddenly found my kneeling morphing into prostration. My new friend Michael came to put his hand on my back as I screamed out my grief into the floor of the church and tried to catch my breath. The pain seemed fresh somehow, and I couldn’t help myself. It was a holy moment, and I was embarrassed and unselfconscious at once, as I was vaguely aware of Chris’ reading, and of the people gathered, but I felt like I had become a part of the liturgy, crying out on behalf of those lost, of those departed, of those taken from us. A testament to the mystery of following a God both great and good, who evokes love and loyalty, as well as fear and dread.
When I got up, I was strengthened by long hugs from strangers, as well as a silent invitation to another crying jag from our friends Pete and Jackie on the steps of the altar. And then, suddenly, the clouds lifted and I entered back into the weekend: food and friendship, learning and celebration, worship and solidarity.
We travelled back to gather with our church on Sunday morning. When, after giving a talk about James 5 and healing, and moving with our group through a time of prayer for healing for those gathered, I felt the same thawing of my heart as we turned toward the Eucharist. As I went forward to take the bread, my friend Dee saw my angst and laid a hand on my shoulder to pray for me, and my friend Mike kindly paused with the wine until I gathered my breath and shook the anger out of my arms and fists so that I could take the cup. And when I went forward to invite others to come forward for prayer after the service, I knew that I was the first one in need of healing. My friends gathered around me to lay hands on me and basically join with me in my tears and grief and anger and bitterness and defiant questioning.
In all of this, I don’t feel resolution or improvement or relief, but I also don’t feel alone. And I’m deeply grateful for that.