In the beginning, the heaviness of sadness pulls me down. My heart is broken, and I am physically exhausted from the tears that are continually on my face. I cannot see light and there seems to be no life left in me. My world is dark. My natural impulse is to avoid the darkness, to run from it, but with courage that I cannot comprehend, I open my eyes in this darkness. I cannot make out anything but shadows. There is no form and no substance. There is a great emptiness. This place of grief is formless and void of anything except itself and darkness fills the depths of my sorrow. But as I sit in this place, there is breath. Yes, my own breath as I continue to breathe, though some days I despair even of this, but in this darkness, I also sense Ruach, the breath of God that sweeps across my face and there is, in that moment, a glimmer of light. As I feel God’s breath in this place, I begin to see that there is light and there is darkness and they exist, each in their own time; one day at a time. As I continue to sit with the periods of light and darkness, life begins to transform around me; very slowly at first. I begin to find a firm footing on which to stand. In the moments of light standing on this new ground, I begin to see the shoots of new life straining through the earth. The hope of a new beginning. Not a beginning that comes despite the sadness and the darkness, but because of it. In this moment I begin to hope in a future that is shaped by the comforting and creative breath of God that brings life where there was not life. That brings warmth where it was cold. That sheds light on a path that I could not see. I look around and realize that God has not rescued me from the darkness, but brought me through it to a of place enlightenment, wisdom, and even joy.
* This writing was inspired by a paragraph in the paper, “Recovering Grief in the age of Grief Recovery”. In that paper, my friend, BruceRogers-Vaughn, describes his own journey of grief over the loss of his son. In one paragraph he wrote:
How might joy emerge from such an experience? I do not recall when I first noticed this, but as I mustered the courage to suffer my own grief something very subtle began to happen. I discovered in the chaos, at the edge of the abyss, an unnamable creative energy. It began to dawn upon me that Genesis 1 is not a commentary about some primeval era: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." This is where anything that deserves the name life must begin—in the void, in the darkness of chaos. It is into this darkness that we descend whenever we mourn. And if we keep our eyes open in this darkness, we find there what the text of Genesis 1 asserts: That the breath of life, the Spirit of the Creator, is moving around in there: "and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."