The Unlikely Friendship of Grief.

I woke up to the sound of a mockingbird outside. He’s been there for days now, with a repertoire of delicate songs that splash like a brook. It’s been sixteen years now since I woke up to another sound –  of the phone ringing, of water in the sink to splash my face to reality, of the car starting and the road racing and the ding of the elevator at the county hospital, of the silence in the room where the woman who tried to be constant love in a fickle fling world laid so quietly.

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I’ve talked about that morning before. I discovered where heaven was that day – that it wasn’t some distant in the clouds never-never land, but that it was present in the bathroom with me as I threw on jeans and a sweater. My mom was there, just on the other side of the parchment-thin reality between divinity and the shadows. I could see the faint outline of her smile. If I could have torn through that morning, I would have – just to see her there dancing, without the weight of the days pressing down. I realized the profound ache of missing Eden that day, and that death was never created or invited but rather self-imposed after the long afternoon walks with God were traded for the insatiable desire to know it all and do it all. I felt the space between the grief that holds hope out like a bouquet of roses, and grief that stands in a field to say, “hope is buried here – and I believe you can still find it.”

Mom’s death was the bouquet and the field.

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I used to think grief was something to get over or to get through or get past. I’ve learned it’s certainly not a thing to cling tightly to for too long, as it needs fire and water and air and earth to do its work. Gripping grief will destroy its beauty, and denying it will destroy us. But it’s been sixteen years now, and I’ve come to be OK with the unlikely friendship of grief. The wash of it over a tender moment is the reminder that we are made for more than the dirt under our feet. The sound of it in a mockingbird’s song is the reminder that our stories are still being written even as the ink on the page blurs from the tears. The presence of it in dog-eared picture books or fading photos is the reminder that death is the very thing that God uses to plant His new seeds of life in us, the way the soil in the field hides the seeds of hope – hope waiting to be baptized.

Perhaps its our tears that water the ground. 

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Today, the unlikely friendship of grief is meeting me on the pages of a 40-year old Bible. It’s the one my mom opened for the first time in 1982 to try to prove me wrong when I told her I would be traveling to Mexico to live for a while as a missionary. Surely any God worth His salt or her attention would never take away her little love. There are marks in ink on the pages where the searching took her to a different place – a place of His great affection for her. I remember the day she told me she had accidentally fallen in love with Jesus – and that she was terrified still but knew He would care for me. There are other marks as well, as the woman who couldn’t get to a church building learned about love and strength and grace sitting in the living room with a cup of coffee and words written in King James English. God taught her about beauty. He taught her about wisdom. Her taught her about letting go. He taught her to be thankful – always. “Praise the Lord for everything, even that which we think to be bad. Praise the Lord.” He showed her the power of women. He reminded her not to worry. He told her that love was worth it all. She marked not only scriptures, but circled small descriptors in margins as well.

{made complete | devotion | known | good courage | saved | bless}

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I am learning in the eternity of the missing. I hear my mom’s voice in the markings on the page. Today, she is reminding me that the latter days will be better than the former, that where I am today – sixteen years later – holds more beauty than she could have ever imagined in any poem she wrote or picture she drew. Today, she’s reminding me of the power that lives inside me to be prophet and priest and keeper of Holy Spirit – perfected words of prayer. Today, she’s reminding me that I am both legacy and future – that seeds planted in the soil of pain have sprung up in bouquets that give life. She’s whispered my favorite scripture to remind me that God redeems and keeps redeeming.

Today, the unlikely friendship of grief says I am still here, still breathing, purposefully planted in this moment to keep living and keep marking the pages until the ink runs dry. It says you you are here too, with me – circling descriptors that tell the world who we are and who we want to be. It says we are beautiful, it says love is still worth it. It tells us to take good courage, and to bless beyond all blessing.

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Yes, we are still here with our stories being written.  And we are made for more than the dirt under our feet.


Has grief found you lately? How may I pray for you as you lean in to find out what it’s saying to you? Or what has grief taught you that would be good for someone else to hear? I’m here right now for you, and I know your story is being written well.

 

This entry was posted in Community, Faith, Musings and Thoughts and tagged , , , by Ronne Rock. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ronne Rock

LIFE. LOVE. LEADERSHIP. AND A LITTLE #KITCHENTHERAPY. Ronne Rock’s heart finds its strongest beat where beauty and pain collide – because hope always finds us in the shattered places. There’s more than 30 years of marketing and communications experience in her bones, and she finds great joy in sharing leadership wisdom as a regular contributor to Orange Leaders and QARA. But more often than not these days, she's with the vulnerable in difficult places around the world, gathering stories that change stories. Find Ronne's words in "For You, Love" the prayer journal that invites you to respond, and in Everbloom, a collection of stories from the Redbud Writers Guild. She is currently writing, "Building Eden: Principles of a Grace-Filled Leadership that Restores and Redeems."   Ronne is represented by Karen Neumair at Credo Communications.

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