Take a Break for Faith Podcast Transcript
Take Five for Faith monthly meditation podcast–Winter Grief.
Welcome to your Take Five Monthly Meditation. Now that the holidays have passed, the days are short, the nights are cold, and a sense of sadness and winter grief may hang in the air. And maybe your holidays themselves were accompanied by grief. Let’s reflect on what’s going on. We’ll start with a story to help us settle in.
I heard of a family where the dad was concerned that his many kids weren’t getting along. As they began to reach adulthood the kids each went their own ways. They were strong willed and talented and a few of their arguments turned serious. Some were no longer speaking to each other. Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers became strained.
The father took many steps to gather and reconcile the group, but to no avail. In the final days of his life, he tried to plan a trip back to the “old country,” figuring that if they returned to their roots together, the distance between them would fade and they would be close again. But an illness overcame him and he died before that trip could be taken.
The family did take a final trip together with their father, though. They gathered at the church, prayed together, and made the long trip out to the cemetery. Standing around the casket, their common grief and their father’s ancient faith reunited them. Their petty differences fell away. A feeling of compassion came over each one of them. And in that moment their father got his wish—that all may be one.
We’ll move more deeply into our theme with a reflection on the experience of grief around the holidays.
Memories are mysterious things. Moments of remembering flash across our minds at the sound of a word or the aroma of perfume or the phrase of a song. Sometimes our memories are welcomed treasures, giving birth to smiles and warm affection. Other times, when we’re grieving the loss of someone we love, memories wash over us as waves of pain and we’re immobilized by grief.
During the holidays you may have noticed memories of special times shared with a loved one stirred up by the sights and sounds of the season. Preparing the Thanksgiving meal, hanging a special ornament on the tree, shopping for gifts, or even the simple change of seasons can bring us to periods of melancholy. With the death of a loved one, holiday rituals are not the same. Something, and someone, is missing, and we realize that from now on things will be different.
Jesus was wise in the ways of grief, as we see in the unfolding of the Emmaus story. Following his resurrection, Jesus comes upon two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus, most likely good friends who, as disciples, are deeply grieving the loss of their beloved teacher.
Jesus does not try to comfort them but rather simply listens as they tell him the story of how they have come to be burdened with their loss.
As every good grief counselor knows, telling the story of their loved one is important for the bereaved. Simply being present and listening is the most important task for those who walk with them on the journey. We walk, as did the disciples, with eyes closed to our Lord because our grief overwhelms us. The Emmaus story teaches us that Jesus enters our lives, sometimes unknown to us, during times of our most profound pain and grief.
In the story, as with us, Jesus does not turn away from the disciples because they don't recognize him. Instead he sits down to eat a meal with them and, in the breaking of the bread, they see him as their lost Lord, resurrected through the will of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. As one Christian author has written, "The two Emmaus pilgrims come to be known and embraced in their grief by the Christ who listens, places the reality of death in the larger picture of God's passion for the whole world, and resolves the pain by a nursing, caring love."
When Jesus leaves these disciples, he leaves them with something more powerful than memories. He leaves them with faith in God, hope in the Resurrection, and love for him—their teacher—that will be contagious and make the world new.
One of the mysteries of life is that love, which brings us so much joy, also brings grief. If we didn't love, we wouldn't grieve. The pain often forces us to lose sight of the blessing that our love has been to us, our families, and the world.
It is this love, with all its power and beauty, that we cherish, that we craft into stories to be shared at the holidays and all year long, so that our loved ones are never forgotten.
Nearly 100 years ago, perhaps during a holiday season like the one just passed, Jesuit priest Alban Goodier wrote that love “is the key to this life, the content of the next, the abiding link between both, the mortal's possession that can never die, and the fire of life that leaps across the chasm made by death.” Grief may be ours for a time, but the love of God is ours forever.
Let’s continue with a reflection that moves us forward.
Sometimes, in the least suspecting places, we can find miracles. For Mary Magdalene it was a tomb where she had gone to weep and grieve the death of Jesus. But instead she found life. She experienced the risen Jesus and became the first person to proclaim it to the world. Somehow in the midst of her grief and sense of loss, Mary left a tiny space for hope that allowed her to recognize the voice of Jesus as he called her name. The possibility for miracles great and small is with us every day. Leave a space open within your heart—you just may hear your name being called.
We’ll close our reflection with a scripture to live by, which comes from Psalm 34, verse 18:
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
This concludes our Take Five Monthly Meditation on Winter Grief. We hope you have found it of benefit and we welcome your comments and feedback. You can find us at TakeFiveforFaith.com or on Facebook. The music for this month’s podcast is by Lee Rosevere. The Take Five Monthly Meditation is produced by TrueQuest Communications.
Thank you for joining us this month and have a blessed day!