At the worst of times, in the worst of places, we hear the whisper.
“There’s something more to this,” it says.
“Lean in,” it implores.
We aren’t often told that the Holy Spirit and Grief are partners.
Mostly, we’re taught a narrative that they oppose one another, that we should trust the Spirit but keep the words of Grief far, far from our hearts, because she will surely tell us something we don’t want to hear. She will surely break us and we won’t know how to put it back together again.
But if we imagine Grief and the Spirit as partners, the voice of God takes on human flesh all over again, for Jesus’s life was full of grieving.
He grieved as he left home, when his days of carpentry were over.
He grieved when he moved through the wilderness and into his calling.
He grieved from Gethsemane.
It taught him who he was.
And every season of shedding a piece of his identity only to take on a purer one required the work of Grief– holy work, indeed.
We are people who numb, fix, and manipulate pain.
But Grief has something important to say, whether we want to hear it or not.
I suggest we try.
Because when we realize that we are not the only ones who are grieving– that all of humanity grieves, individually and collectively– we understand how the Spirit works.
The Spirit, birthed from Jesus himself as a gift to us, leads us out of isolation and toward one another.
And when we get there, it doesn’t mean that Grief’s work is done, that we’ve arrived at a place of joy, with no more sadness or sorrow.
It means that we continue listening to what Grief has to say, and we do it together.
She teaches us to care for our enemies.
She teaches us to forgive.
She teaches us to let God mend our hearts.
She leads us out of racism, sexism, greed, bigotry, and idolatry.
She calls us toward wholeness, if we only let her do the work.
And the Spirit holds her hand along the way.
So my friend, next time you hear Grief whispering for you, pay attention.
She is a gift in a form we don’t always understand.
But her voice is universal.
We are a nation grieving.
We live on an earth that grieves.
We go to church and synagogue and temple with grieving people.
We share sidewalks and cubicles and turning lanes with others who grieve.
That’s why Shalom’s work is not yet done.
And for all the distortions of peace that come with our bodies and souls, Grief and Shalom are partners, too, teaching us that community always works alongside the moving parts of everyone.
And we’ve got to work through the pain to get to the other side.
“First the pain, then the rising.”
–Glennon Doyle Melton
So may we lean in.
May we listen.
May we grieve.
And may we journey toward Shalom together.