Advent 2016: Loving means Grieving

I'm still making my way through The Book of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It is just what I need right now.

Today's chapter was on sadness. A few excerpts:

"In his [psychology researcher Joseph Forgas'] experiments, people who were in a sad mood had better judgement and memory, and were more motivated, more sensitive to social norms, and more generous than the happier control group."

"While depression certainly collapses our circle of concern inward, the periodic feeling of sadness might widen it."

"We don't really get close to others if our relationship is made up of unending hunky-dory-ness. It is the hard times, the painful times, and sadness and grief that knit us more closely together."

"[Psychologist] Gordon Wheeler explains that grief is the reminder of the depth of our love. Without love, there is no grief."

Without love, there is no grief. The path of love necessarily involves suffering.

I'm grieving this post-election season because I believe this country has the potential to be a force for love, mercy, and justice in the world. I'm grieving how far we are from that, how totally and drastically we need redemption and rescue. And my friends who've experienced deep loss--death of children, husbands, parents--tell me there's no timeline for grief.

When we're mourning, there are times we want to be alone (parties are hard for me right now) and there is an urgent need to be together. I sat in church this morning and wept, grateful to be in a sanctuary that was praying for Water Protectors, grateful to hear my pastor's sermon about the power of vulnerability. I tried to remind myself, "This sadness means you're ALIVE. It means there is something in you that knows what goodness is."

I took this photo of a frozen wheat field when I was in Nebraska last winter. I returned again the spring, and it looked totally different. God, may it be the same with us--turn our unyielding, fallow earth into soft sod for the roots of justice and life. Amen.