About a month ago, a 20 year old in our congregation died. He was remotely connected...grew up in the church...but as most young adults do (heck, as most older adults do), he found his respite and wholeness in places outside of the church. But still. It took the breath out of me.
It made my body ache for the mother and the father, nodding and smiling, eyes glazed, as 100's and 100's of kids...kids...filed by, to pay their respects at the funeral home. It made my teeth hurt, to watch this young mans little sister - eight years old - play with her "funeral toys," seemingly unfazed by her surroundings. And my heart ached for the grandmother and grandfather who sat in the pew, just in front of the pulpit, that very next Sunday.
Grief is a full experience. There are stages. Sure. But when grief hits you...it hurts everywhere. And there are no "stages." It just hurts.
Unfortunately, as image after image of Boston and Iran and Pakistan and North Korea and South Korea and West and Iraq is flashed before our eyes, we forget to feel. We forget to feel the sting of death in ways that propel us to be and act and react differently in the world. And we shut down. We let congress handle it, with their bombs and their politicized statements of regret. We let the news media tell us what is sad (a 20 year old, Boston, West) and what is not sad (Iraq, North Korea). We let our ministers and our priests pray for us because somewhere in the back of our minds, we assume God must be behind this, and that gives us pause. We let the anonymity of Facebook and Twitter teach us what we should believe, if we love Jesus... or are good Americans... or support our troops... or love babies and puppies. We let those around us "tsk" and say "what a shame" in hushed tones, because words escape even the most talkative.
We shut down.
It's too much. The body aches. The mind short circuits. The soul weeps.
Here me say: This is normal. Let it happen. Really. I know it's hard. But really, let it happen. And then...be changed by it, be propelled by the pain, act and react differently today.
Give blood. Practice patience. Really listen to another. Extend a hand, when it would be easier to walk away. Love deeply and tell someone the reasons why. Live peace. Recycle. Dance with a child. Pray even when you're not sure how to believe.
And let your body ache. Feel.
Then maybe, we'll begin to see the world differently.