“A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.”
The line is by Joan Didion and is found in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, her memoir of loss written after the sudden death of her husband and the terminal illness of her adult daughter. I have held on to that line since first reading it ten years ago and have it underlined for remembrance. I thought of it again this past week as we ministered to friends and family in Christ who are grieving, and as we, too, grieve for the loss of cherished friends and family. Those whom we have loved are missing and our world is emptier. We miss them. We miss their voices. We miss the tangible signs of loving that come through deep, rich relationships.
At the same time, in the paradox of being human, in the midst of absence, the church of the Lord Jesus is called to gather as presence. We are called to be God’s love made visible to the world. We have been called to be the body of Christ, to show the love of Christ. We have the privilege of bearing the heart of Christ, broken for love of another. We are to be the arms of Christ, embracing those who hurt and the feet of Christ walking alongside sharing the pathways of grief. You know what I mean.
For those who grieve – and that will be all of us sooner or later – the love shared by family and friends who become like family will be met with gratitude. Your capacity to love helps create room for sadness to be voiced and for grief to move forward in doing what God intended. Grief is God’s way of healing human hearts. It is real, sometimes remaining quietly in our souls and sometimes coming upon us in God-when-will-it-stop tears. Surrounded by the love of God and the love of the children of God, however slowly at first, God is at work turning our darkness into light, redeeming our current circumstance through the power of God’s love.
Keep going, bg