Thursday, November 25, 2021

Holidays With Empty Seats and Dark Holes

For many, the coming holidays will be hard because of an empty seat at the table. Some of my friends in the USA are observing Thanksgiving today for the first time with the awkward anguish of That Empty Chair, the one that for so many previous years had been occupied by a beloved spouse, a parent, or even a child. These precious persons have been taken away from this life, sometimes by the course of nature and the fullness of their years (which - even when it’s not sudden or surprising - causes real sorrow for those left behind). But there are also many persons who have vanished "before their time," in strange ways, under circumstances that leave their loved ones gasping for breath and staring at the black hole that has burned suddenly into the midst of their daily lives… a hole that seems bottomless.

For me this year, there are some real reasons for grief, but also very much to be grateful for. And there is above all gratitude for the hope that sustains me through joys and surprises, changes and the passage time, and even in the midst of pain and sorrows.

But I know that for others, the trial is much more acute, and the empty seat at the table reminds them of an absence that is like an abyss that they and their families have been plunged into, where they cannot seem to see any light or find any foothold.

My prayer is especially for them, that they may remember that they are held in the darkness and in the depths by the forever-open-wounded hands of Love.