Grief

The grief of the people of Norway one year on from the Breivik massacre is compounded by what happened a couple of days ago in Aurora, Colorado. At the back of most people’s minds is the thought, ‘It could happen again.’ Where the technology exists (guns, grenades, etc), there will always be people mad enough or bad enough to use them for mass murder and there is practically nothing that can be done to prevent it. Does that mean we are both helpless and hopeless? I don’t think so.

Death is something we must all experience sooner or later. When it comes early, or to someone we love, or with pain and distress, we rebel against it. Everything in us cries out for life. It is for life that we were created, after all. But for a Christian, life is changed, not ended, by death. The trouble is, we don’t know what lies beyond this life. All the assurances in the world can do nothing to overcome our personal feelings of doubt or difficulty. We must cling, as Mary, Martha and Lazarus clung, to our friendship with the Lord and trust that he will not abandon us after death any more than he has abandoned us in this life.

Grief weighs us down, shuts out the light, makes everything seem empty and hollow. At such times, it is good to look at a crucifix, that strange and terrible symbol of God’s aching love for us.  When there are no more tears to be shed and all the words that could be said have been said; when there is only the numbing pain of loss and the bleakness of an empty tomorrow, then the crucifix reminds us that God is not apart from us, uninvolved or uncaring. The bowed head of the Christus reminds us that he is with us always. He shares our sorrow, but unlike any other comforter we may have, he can and does transform our sorrow into joy.

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4 thoughts on “Grief”

  1. Thank you. You have gone straight to the heart of what our world needs so crucially to know.

    I think we do have to challenge ourselves with the question of what it is in our western culture that makes such actions rational to seemingly intelligent people. What is it in the collective unconscious of young men that a representative few are prepared to go to such extremes? Why are they so frustrated? Where have our value systems broken down that frustration explodes into such abominable ire against civilian populations?

    We can call them psychopaths, but what, exactly, is psychopathy? It is not easy to categorise under any heading of mental illness. Again and again, it eludes diagnosis and it proves impossible to nail the perpetrator. Psychopathy is slick, occultly elusive, spiritually calculating and bereft of conscience, but generally charming, genial and helpful in the short and medium term. On your side. Pillars of society. We all know them, but most of us fail to recognise them. It is easier with hindsight and a trail of devastation to be wise.

    What is it about our society that either creates them or enables them to flourish?

    St Paul talks about ‘principalities and powers’, spirits of the air. We need to foster and invite the good spirits, even give birth to them ourselves. In the world’s parlance, in everything we do, I believe we should be mindful of spreading ‘good karma’. Christians can add to that, through careful prayer, the dimensional power of Christ Crucified and Risen which is beyond our human understanding and will and works like leaven in dough when we invite it into our lives. We don’t see it, but the effects become apparent.

    One of the huge benefits of getting older is that we grow more attuned to the bigger picture and the ‘evidence unseen’ of eternity interacting with the Here and Now.

    As the dying John Wesley whispered: “Best of all is, God is with us.”

    Emmanuel.

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