This has been a tough week. And today isn't really magically different just because it's today and yesterday was yesterday. But it's starting to get better.
The words I've penned in this place over the past six days have been some of my most agonized. They have not come easy. Because I haven't been trying to say anything poignant, to put any grief into beautiful language, or expound some grand mysterious truth. I've just been looking for the words to do some minuscule measure of justice to the pain in my heart.
So I have fumbled around. I have tripped over my own words, fallen over my broken heart, and made liberal use of my backspace key and long afternoons, trying to find something more to put to these days than stinging pain of loss. Trying..not to put myself out there but to put grief out there. Trying...not to be an expert, but to be an example.
These past six days, I've just been grieving out loud. Maybe today, I still am.
Grieving out loud because I haven't known what else to do with myself. Out loud because I don't believe in hiding. Out loud because we need to see more of this in each other - we need to live with authenticity because that's how we touch each other's lives.
Out loud because grief demands it. If there is one universal truth about grief, it is this: grief cries out for community. It cries out to not feel any more alone than it has to, any more left behind our loss already leaves us. When we're able to pull around each other the way we have in this past week, we answer something in each other. We love somehow in grief.
This love gives us a soft place to land, a place where we're not hiding behind being strong. Where we're not pushing through our days with clinched teeth because life goes on and we have to. Where we're not pretending this doesn't matter. We're just loving...because we're all here. And I think following the heart of grief and grieving out loud gives us permission to let it be. To let it come. To invite love.
A few weeks ago when my dog had her first seizure, I wrote to you that I am a rock in a crisis, that I am the person you want to have around because I'm steady. These past six days...I haven't wanted to be a rock. I could have; God has given me that. But that's not what these days have called for. These days have called for authenticity. For vulnerability. For surrender. And for a willingness to embrace a holy moment - that is, the intertwining of grief and love, of loss and life, of good and God.
And you, friends..you have been gracious to let me do it. You have been gracious to give me this place to put grief out there.
In these days and in this place, there has been love. I have been both humbled and honored by the way my staggering around has managed to touch the hearts of those around me - not for my grief, but for our grief. For our lostness and our fumbling and our numbness. But I have been more humbled and honored by the way you have chosen to touch my heart. By the way you have shared your hearts, told your stories, drawn into the moment and into the grief and agreed to stand here. Agreed to be a part of God's people grieving out loud.
I don't think we need to be afraid or ashamed of that. I know I'm not. I'm not ashamed to grieve. I'm not ashamed to admit or to show how hard I've grieved. I'm not ashamed that in my own church sanctuary (auditorium) yesterday, tears rolled down my face and my body shook so bad I could hardly stand to tell a story in honor of my brother Harold. I'm not ashamed of my grief. Because I'm not ashamed of my love.
Love...knowing love...and the Father of Love give me permission not only to grieve out loud, but to live out loud, as well. Love...in faith...gives me the confidence to do it. Love...in Jesus...gives me the grace to live a little sloppy when I need to because this world - as these six days (and countless moments) have shown us - is just a mess sometimes.
There's not one word in this past week that I have written for you. I have been blown away by how powerful these piddly words have been, what an impact they could have. And I'm thankful to God for the patience to pen them. But these have been my words for a broken heart. They have been painstakingly labored over for the sole purpose of finding a deeper story than pain. They have been written for grief. In a greater sense, they have been written for love.
But these next words, I write to each of you: Thank you. Thank you for giving me these six days. Thank you for responding to my heart with your hearts. Thank you for not losing sight of the stories of grief or of love. Thank you for loving me well. And thank you for loving (and grieving) Harold with me. With us.