Would you please go away? I have been immersed in you this week. My dear seminary friend lost her battle with cancer earlier this week and all of us; her mat-carriers are scattered far and wide. We all are grieving as a community and it isn't fair. It isn't fair that Laura's girls have now lost both parents to cancer. It isn't fair that we didn't get to say goodbye. It isn't fair that a life was taken too short.
Growing up on the prairies of North Dakota, I have experienced the effects of the prairie winds. And you, grief, often feel like that prairie wind. Sometimes you blow in so gently like on Monday when the tears gently fell from my face as I read the news of my friend's passing. Or sometimes you blow in more like a winter storm leaving the affects of a strong wind behind. And other times, you blow in like a light breeze before a summer rain.
Sometimes that wind leaves me drenched after a summer rain leaving me uncomfortable. Other times that wind blows in so strong that I feel as if I am drowning. And other times, I am left just a little damp or even dry. No matter what type of wind and how wet I find myself, I find myself trying to escape the depths of grief; yearning to throw off those wet clothes of grief.
Grief, not only, are you like those ND prairie winds, but you also are like mountain climbing. Some days I find myself clawing my way victorious to the top of Mt. Grief. Other times, I find myself slipping, sliding, and falling down that same mountain trying to climb my way out of the depths of grief. And other times, I find myself simply holding on for the ride...hoping and praying that I will come out on the other side a changed person. And yet other times, I find myself panting for breath wondering if I will be able to breath again.
Oh grief, I am already tired of you, but I also know that you are a part of life. My wise pastoral friend Laura found a way to remind all of us mat-carriers of that when she said, "Be patient with yourselves while you are grieving and tell the people you love that you love them and know that you are loved." Grief, I am not going to let you take that promise away from me. It is a promise that can overshadow the grief I and so many are feeling in these days of loss because "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it."
Grief, during these days of Advent, as we wait for the coming of Emmanuel, may you come in like gentle waves on an ocean rather than like crashing hurricane force winds. And grief, may you know that you have no power over hearing those three simple words "I love you!"