By Lilly Lewin
It’s Black Friday here in the States. I don’t know if this event takes place in other parts of the world, but here in America, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. It’s so big that some stores choose to open on Thursday night! That means opening at the end of a national holiday, Thanksgiving. We’ve just spent a day, supposedly being grateful for what we have, but then our culture encourages us to go out and spend money on things we think we need or we hope will bring us joy and happiness! The contrast of the two days is stark. I tend to avoid Black Friday altogether. It’s actually been a spiritual practice to avoid all shopping on Black Friday. It’s hard to do when all the ads on TV and in email are advertising the “great deals” that you don’t want to miss! There is so much intensity about shopping and getting stuff that it grieves my soul.
Black Friday has me thinking of grief in general. As I was getting ready to host my family for Thanksgiving, I was praying for all the families in California who lost their homes and couldn’t gather around their tables this year. I thought about everyone who lost family member and friends in the California fires. I thought about all people I know who are celebrating their first big holiday without a loved one, parent, spouse, or child. There is pain in the process of going about the day and all the memories of those people and traditions.
I’ve also been grieving the US vs THEM mentality in our country. Here in America, we are divided about so many things. We just had a major election and this did not make us more connected, but rather showed us how deeply we are entrenched on our sides. Hatred and lack of compassion seem to be seeping into all areas of our lives. We seem to have forgotten the golden rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. We seem to abandon the greatest commandments to love God and love our neighbor.
How do we move forward? What can we do?
I think we need to acknowledge our grief in order to move forward!
We need to acknowledge our pain and allow God to begin to heal it.
Grief about the world, our country, and the pain and grief in our personal lives.
As we move into the season of Advent where we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, let’s let the Light of Jesus shine into the darkness that we are carrying around with us.
Last week, I was at National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis, MO. Over 4000 youth workers from all over the country gathered to learn and be encouraged in their ministries. As a part of the Soul Care Team, we created space for these folks to get their cups filled up, not just “get more information.” There are spiritual directors, the Prayer Chapel filled with Prayer Stations, and I curate the Sanctuary where we teach prayer practices like centering prayer, Benedictine spirituality, Sabbath, and pray the hours. My friend Beth Slevcove leads a workshop on grief. She has a great book on learning to grieve called Broken Hallelujahs: Learning to Grieve the Big and Small Losses of Life
check out the video preview here:
We also had a prayer station in the Chapel that allowed folks to process their grief. People wrote down the things that they were grieving and tied these prayers on to a grape vine.
Blessed are Those who Mourn…
WRITE your Prayers of Grief and Regret on a piece of Muslin
And Tie it to the Grape Vine.
Give your loss, grief, despair to Jesus, The True Vine.
What things are weighing you down?
What losses have you experienced this year?
What pain, grief, despair are you carrying with you right now?
What do you need to take time to grieve before Advent?
Make a List and give it to Jesus.
Perhaps you need to burn this list and let it go in that way.
Maybe you need to create a wailing wall of some kind and place your prayers of grief in the
Wall and give them to Jesus to hold and heal.
Maybe you just need to set aside some time to write in your journal or take a walk and talk to Jesus about your pain.
Take time this Black Friday to honor yourself and your grief.
Be still. Be Real. Jesus knows our hearts already and longs to bring us hope and comfort in our sorrow.
Let’s allow Jesus to prepare room in our hearts as we prepare for his incarnation.