by Pam Tinsley
“Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!” is our Easter acclamation. We are Easter people, people of the resurrection, living in the assurance that those who die, live forever in God’s eternal kingdom.
Yet, what about those who are grieving the death of a loved one, especially in times of celebration such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and holidays? What about those who see others joyfully celebrating Easter, yet feel an aching hole in their own souls even though they believe fervently in the Resurrection? Can they, as they continue to mourn, even feel this joy?
Sarah, a dear friend of mine, was widowed a few years ago. Both Sarah and her husband were in their mid-fifties. Both of them expected him to recover from his illness, and when he didn’t, she and their young adult children were devastated. The grief she felt was numbing, even paralyzing at times. Her faith in Jesus and knowing how Jesus had suffered and despaired gave her glimmers of hope. Yet, in spite of being part of a strong church community and participating in a grief support group, she continued to struggle with her grief because, for the most part, the other participants were much older than she.
Sarah also happens to be a gifted writer. As she struggled with her grief, she wondered whether there might be a way she could find healing for herself and, at the same time, help others who were widowed at a younger age. Seeking God’s guidance, she prayed and, with God’s help, she began her “healing journey.” She took a leave of absence from work and went on several meditation retreats. And now she is blogging in the hope that she might be able to offer insights and encouragement to others. As she reaches out to others in their grief, her writing brings her healing moments in her own grief.
As Barbara Cawthorne Crafton wrote in a recent reflection, “Love transforms service, teaching us that there’s no such thing as a menial task. Love teaches us that, if nothing is beneath us, nothing will be beyond us. Love remains with us after our unstinting efforts have all failed — it doesn’t conquer all, as the old saying goes, but it bears all things without turning away from any of them.”
Sarah is discovering how true this observation is. When she decided to use her gift of writing to reach out to others, Sarah may not have consciously realized that she was following Jesus’ commandment to “wash the feet” of others. Perhaps we, too, might experience how our love in Christ transforms us by recognizing a gift God has given us, and then by giving our gift to help salve the wounds of others.