In 2017, a small but dedicated service came together at our church, open to everyone, in a simple attempt to create deliberate, focused time and space for those of us who needed or wanted to lament a seemingly endless accumulation of human tragedy and suffering throughout that entire year.
The year of devastating floods, hurricanes, earth quakes and wildfires; wars, humanitarian crises, refugees, despair; shootings, violence, hate, division and strife; grief, loss and pain.
Since then we have witnessed all the above happening all over the world: over and over and over again.
Not to mention a Global Pandemic. Devastating sickness and death. International pain and mourning. Hate crimes, based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, politics. Climate Injustice. Racial injustice. Murder. Inequality. Poverty. Hunger. Sexism. Misogyny. White Supremacy. Extreme Nationalism. Nativism. Terrorism; both international and domestic. Violent government take-overs or attempts thereof. Threats to Democracy. War crimes. Genocides. Deep-seated political divisions and conspiracy theories. Insulting Twitter storms. Lust for power, vengeance and wrath. Closed-off ears, eyes and hearts.
God, have mercy on us all.
And God does.
The World is hurting.
But — We are not alone.
We are all connected to each other. More people than not, care deeply. More people than not, are calling out for lasting change and healing, and actually making it happen. More people than not, are making a difference.
And, we hold on to this ancient and present truth: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.“ (Psalm 34:18)
I have clung to those very words for dear life before, myself. I also wrote them in a card and placed them in the coffin of our mother whom we lost to suicide, many years ago.
Deep, genuine lament is not only part of our earliest spiritual traditions; it is also a necessary element of our human-ness. It fosters empathy for others, it connects us. It moves us outside of ourselves to want to go and help others. Sometimes that is as simple and uncomplicated as just being there with, or for, someone. Other times we might be called to be or do, more. When we listen with our hearts, we usually know what to do. Often, words aren’t even necessary.
Lament helps each one of us cope with the darkness. It relieves us. It comforts us.
With all of my heart, soul and strength; in both uncertainty and hope, I would like to share with you (again) this imperfect but heartfelt offering.
May we all feel the desperately needed Light of God shine upon us.
May we look up to receive that Light, and be comforted.
Hope, is here.
Change, is here.
And it starts with each one of us.
music / lyrics: ©️Eliza Gilkyson, “Requiem”
decor / photography©️oraetdecora