The Grace and Grief Dance
We must all face it. At some point, we must all look mortality in the face and acknowledge its grip on us.
the state of being subject to death.
In times of peace, we lull ourselves to sleep on this truth. We begin believing that life shall be as it always is - or at least that is how we live. We make plans for everything except the inevitable - death.
And when death knocks on our door, as it always will, it sends us into a rage from deep within. We ask: Why? Why now? What's the point?
We say things like: It's not fair. It's not right.
And on some level, we are right. It is not fair. It is not right.
But when we carefully examine the world around us and take a look through history, we will find that it has always been this way. The proud and rich people succumb to it the same way as the humble and poor.
Death is the great equalizer.
And so our grief settles in heavy on our chest. Death takes our breath away. And grief creeps slowly around us and envelopes us in a shadow of pain.
Anyone who has had to look death in the face, their own or someone that they loved, knows this pain. It is like none other; indescribable and suffocating.
I have had to face it many times. When I was told my son had a 3% chance of living. When my grandfathers died. When my father died. When my aunt died. When I was told that I was 24 hours away from death. When my mother died.
Each time I felt that sinking feeling and the surreality of death's effects choked me.
Death is a cruel monster.
But death teaches us something wonderful. In the middle of crying your eyes out and feeling that gut-wrenching sensation in the pit of your belly, you empty yourself. In that place, there is no ego or pride. There is only the need for something bigger than this.
In Christian circles grace is defined as:
God's unmerited favor, love, or help
Death reminds us that we are not in control. Death reminds us that we are not divinity, immortal, or eternal.
And death reminds us that we have a great need beyond what we see with our mortal eyes.
Having seen death, I can tell you that there is no "cure" for the pain and grief it causes.
But in the middle of my pain and grief, I found a dance that helped me through it.
In the middle of reality as we face death's gut punch, we must invite grace to join us. We can't kick death out, but we can surely invite grace in.
And when grace enters in, we must let go of death's painful grip and reach for grace. And as we sink into grace's arms and she gently rocks us, our pain takes wings and grief becomes our friend.
And we embrace grace even tighter. This dance helps us accept the reality of death and bear the sting of it.
There is no cure. Only this dance. And somewhere along the way our grace-grief lifts us above what we see into a space where there is the one and only Eternal One.
I don't have the answer to "Why?" But I hold on to what is articulated in one of my favorite hymns traditionally sang at the conclusion of "homegoing services" in my circle:
The United Methodist Hymnal Number 525
Text: Charles Albert Tindley
We are often tossed and driven on the restless sea of time; somber skies and howling tempests oft succeed a bright sunshine; in that land of perfect day, when the mists are rolled away, we will understand it better by and by. By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we will tell the story of how we've overcome, for we'll understand it better by and by.
And in this space of knowing one day that we shall understand, we hold GRACE.
My heart goes out to all of the victims' families and loved ones who have suffered death at the hands of senseless acts of violence. May God's grace be with you.