I wish you could have been with us in that room, four walls surrounding a Hannah Service to acknowledge the grief of children lost, never born, sometimes not even named. We gathered because someone said she did not want to leave you out of this Mother’s Day experience, because you may very well be more deeply affected by it than others.
Sister, I lamented with you, for you, because I have not known what it is like to lose a child, to lose a baby or a pregnancy, to struggle in this way. I cannot understand it, so I hold the silence with you and for you.
I was there to lead worship; I was there to sing a few songs about the faithfulness of God in seasons that are so raw.
Someone said, “I don’t want a hope that will make me deny my grief,” and I thought that so many people should hear this message.
It is universal. It would calm so many hearts and ease so much pain, just a little, if we were allowed to out-loud-grieve and wail and try to make sense of what doesn’t make sense– together.
I cried for you in that space. I grieved with you in ways I didn’t know how, but still, I tried.
We remembered Hannah, who was not afraid to come to God and demand to be heard. We remembered her courage, and I thought of you, of all of you who have been courageous.
We lit candles to mark our lament. There were only a few of us, but we lit more candles than I’d imagined, because I realized there that you are hurting with more than one kind of hurt today. We counted our grief and I so wish I could sit with you and count yours, so that you know you are not alone.
We remembered how our grief burns like fire, how we carry heavy loads as women. So we demanded there that God hear us, and we turned to trusting that God does.
We had three strings to braid together to remember that grief, hope and trust are often intertwined in our lives. As I braided it, not for my own grief or loss, but for yours, I challenged the church to be better to you and for you.
I challenged myself to remember, to not forget, to hold silent space, to learn what it looks like to lament beside others who lament.
I prayed for everyone who may not know what it’s like to hold their own child, let alone two, like I do.
I thought of women in my life who have fostered and cared for children in their homes, who have tried to adopt and it has fallen through; I thought of you, how loss comes and comes again and it hurts.
We ended the evening with hope, but we asked what hope looks like.
Is hope the realized dream of a baby of your own?
Is hope finding that the pain hurts a little less?
Is hope that Mother’s Day will one day feel different than it does now?
We sang, “You make me new, you are making me new,” over and over again as a proclamation– not that we know the answer to what newness looks like, but that we trust in a waiting God who hears the lament, the cry of grief brought from the people.
This Mother’s Day, I pray that the church does better by you, sister.
I pray the church sees you, I pray that the church is quiet and humble enough to understand that we can’t possibly understand, but walk beside you.
Nevertheless, we are here.
You are not alone.
Daily my work is to try to make the church better, to see things she didn’t see before, to notice the things she’s been missing.
I believe the church has work to do to get closer to the call of Jesus, and wrapped up somewhere inside of this call is the challenge to better learn how to grieve with each other.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we believe politically or religiously, how our views of God are different.
We literally set it aside and we wade into grief together, unashamed, unafraid, to let it do its slow and steady work.
And along the way, we pray for hope and trust to settle in somewhere, to make a home among our grief, to commune with our grief so that we know that we are not alone.
This Mother’s Day, I’m leaning in with you, sister.
I’m holding space that I don’t understand toward a God who holds space far better than I ever could.