By Lilly Lewin
I’m taking an online class. It’s really a learning lab led by my friends Mark and Lisa Scandrette who live in San Francisco. We are learning how to live out the beatitudes. We are practicing them together, experimenting with them in our everyday lives. This week we just happen to be on “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. “ Matthew 5:4
As an enneagram 7, I don’t like to stop long enough to process pain. I really don’t like the thought of mourning anything. But this week has been a week filled with pain, waking up on Monday and discovering the worst mass shooting in recent US history, more news of the suffering in Puerto Rico and hearing about a friend who has horrific cancer. There is much this week to be mourned and grieved.
What about you? What pain are you dealing with in your life right now?
What loss, sorrow, grief are you experiencing? Are you taking the time to process these things?
This week I found that I needed to practice a lot of different things in order to engage all the swirling emotions I’ve been feeling.
- I did art. The broken heart above was a journal sketch I did this week when I couldn’t find the words.
- I took walks. I’ve neglected my walks since our dog died this summer, but walking helps me connect with God and with the things spinning in my head so I got outside and walked the neighborhood.
- I phoned a friend. Sometimes I just need to connect with other people. Being a freelancer gets lonely and I needed to process stuff with a friend who would just listen and help me clear away the fog.
- I watched an encouraging movie and listened to music. Music feeds my soul. So I found the movie “Moana” on Netflix and the music and the positivity cheered me up. The musical “Hamilton” is another soundtrack that gives me hope.
- I watched an encouraging youtube video by Brad Montague on being a part of a joyful rebellion!
How can we process pain as a community?
I am an experiential learner and teacher, so I began asking how we can process our pain corporately this week at our thinplace gathering. We haven’t been together since the tragedy of Las Vegas and I know that people are feeling heavy over many of the things happening around the globe and in their own lives. How do we grieve?
The Bible has several ways that people mourned.
- People put on sack cloth and wore ashes.
- People ripped their clothing.
- People fasted.
- People wailed, wept and cried out.
Here are some ways to process grief with your community or on your own:
Sack Cloth: Pass out a piece of cloth to each person in your group. Muslin works well for ripping easily and you can even put a small cut in the top of each piece for easy tearing.
What things are tearing at your soul? What things are ripping at the fabric of your heart this week ? TEAR THE FABRIC Use your strength to rip it into pieces. You physically feel the sensation of the tear and hear the sound.
Ashes. Pass out pieces of sturdy paper or small piece of newspaper. (you can use twigs if you are outside for this response) Use a basin that is heat proof or do this in your fireplace or outside using your grill/bbq or firepit.
Hold the pieces of paper and reflect on the sorrow or pain that you are feeling. You might write this on the paper. Then place it in the basin/bbq and set it on fire and watch it burn away.
Burned twigs, burned paper, burned dreams, the smoky smell of things past. The paper crumbles in your hand and the ashes stick to your clothing and your fingers.
The smell of burning paper…it lingers long after the flame dies away.
Salty Tears: Pouring salt into water as a symbol of our tears.
Take a pinch or even a handful of salt and pour it in a basin of water as a symbol of your tears, the things that are making your heart cry, symbolic of the things that are making you sad, filling you with sorrow. Do this response a second time. Put in a pinch or handful of salt for things in the world that are bringing sorrow and suffering right now. Talk to God about these things as you put the salt in the water. (inspired by David Kludt )
Which of the three ways would best help you express your pain, your sadness, your grief?
What are some other ways that you could express the grief or sadness or the anger that you feel right now? Journaling, art, screaming into a pillow, taking a walk, helping someone else?
Talk to Jesus about this. This is a practice. So it will take practice! It’s not easy for most of us! We’d much rather binge watch something on Netflix or eat large quantities of ice cream!
So I encourage you to make an appointment with yourself and God. Take the time to grieve this weekend and allow Jesus to comfort you in the midst of everything.
I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. 2 Kings 20:5
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126: 4-6
find more prayer ideas at freerangeworship