Thursday, December 7, 2017

Grief, Sorrow, and Longing for Home

This is a time of year when people prepare for celebrations. But we must not forget that, for many people, this is also a time of year when loved ones are missed, when grief flows afresh in the wake of cherished and bittersweet memories of those who are no longer with them in this world.

As Christians we know that death is not the end. The One whose coming we await in this season is the One who gives eternal life. We are people of radical hope.

Yet we experience grief in all its poignant human and mysterious senses. And I don't think we ever overcome in this life the suffering of our deepest and most intimate griefs.

Rather, as we grieve the loss (from this earthly life) of those we love the most, we "grow into" our grief. Eventually, it takes shape as a kind of "peace," but not the quietude of forgetfulness or satisfaction. Rather, it is a peace in which sorrow grows into longing. We cannot help but continue, in the depths of ourselves, to live within that real connection with persons who have fundamentally shaped who we are, even when it stretches us "beyond" the limits of this world, beyond what we can perceive or imagine. Perhaps grief is one of the great struggles of life that leads us to the beginning of a deeper sense that eternity is our true home.

Thus we begin to recognize that even now we are invested in that eternity, that what we are living now only comes to fruition in eternity, in the resurrection, in Jesus where all of God's mysterious wisdom is revealed.

Eternity is the measure of His plan for us and for our loved ones. It has the whole of His unique love for each one of us as unique human persons, and it unveils how through this uniqueness we are brought together in a communion of love with God who is Love, who is Communion (Father, Son, Holy Spirit - One, but not "solitary," not alone). Thus also we are brought together in perfect communion with one another.

Eternal life is where the meaning of everything in this present life finally comes into focus. At most we get glimpses of it during our journey here, enough (I believe) to keep us going, to take the next step of this present moment in the journey with a more ardent awareness of our destiny.

Enough to press onward with longing and with hope that we will all finally come to our true home.