Horrors and Sacred Cookies

I started to write the last night. I had thoughts in mind, things stirring in my heart, but no time to get them down on paper.

I planned to sit today and enjoy a cup of coffee, giving time and space to these thoughts and grabbing a chance to write here on the blog again.

Then I woke and heard the news this morning. 


Heartbreaking, overwhelming news
.  

 I thought about what had sparked my desire to return to writing.

A cookie. 

Yep.

And then I realized what I wanted to write last night was exactly what I needed to write this morning. 

That cookie, and my eating it, is a sacred act.

You see, I ate that cookie to hold a memory my mother cannot hold any more. The memory that she loved macadamia nut cookies. The memory of things that brought delight and a moment of splurge. I could do the same with a Payday candy bar. That cookie is sweet in a deep way…because it holds the reality of a broken world, of a woman who delighted in good things, and memories. 

That’s a lot for a cookie.

We need those sacred moments. Walking through the grocery store and catching sight of something which can bring you up short. Allowing the pain of what is lost, and the delight of what has been, to mingle in the act of eating a cookie. 

That is sacred.

So what does it have to do with today?

Mom’s Dementia, the horror of Las Vegas last night…they force our awareness of the broken state of our world. We know this, of course, but sometimes we are struck forcefully by how fragile we are, and how desperately in need of rescue.

We have to watch in the midst for grace, for humor and for rescue. We have to carry on. (Yes, I’m listening to Rich Mullins at the moment). There will be moments the brokenness is so raw it will break our hearts.

There will be moments we need to weep. Moments we need to see those around us and their pain…and in those moments we need to be so thankful for those we can turn to for comfort and grace.

“The mercy of the world is time. Time does not stop for love, but it does not stop for death and grief, either.” – Wendell Berry

There will be new memories, and there will be another sunrise and another sunset. I like very much, however, what Berry says here:

New grief, when it came, you could feel filling the air. It took up all the room there was. The place itself, the whole place, became a reminder of the absence of the hurt or the dead or the missing one. I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and grieve alike endure.”

Time helps. 

We carry on. The next sunrise helps us. But then we see something or hear something and our breath is taken away afresh. 

But we will dance again.

We will laugh again.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” – Buechner

I know…probably the tenth time I have used that quote.  Maybe Buechner can say that because of this…

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be r I g, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Rev 21:4

So. A cookie and a tragedy and a mother who cannot remember. They are all tied together because of a God who sees, who knows and who will one day set things right. Today, let’s find the sacred around us, let’s comfort those who weep, and let’s carry on. Grace upon grace for those around us today.

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I can only bear so much sorrow….

I have had many discussions with my friend Michael trying to get a grasp on how much we are to bear as a people. The internet has opened the floodgates of information and given news media an even larger ability to stir our emotions as tragedies happen, it has opened the floodgates for information of people far from us to become an intimate part of our thinking and our hearts.  We now are in a time when the tragedies from far away impact us wherever we are.

 

I’m not sure that we are created to bear so much sorrow, to be called to pray for so many so intimately.

 

There was a time when the news came slowly, and I know that there would be challenges with that…the fact that you wouldn’t hear for a very long time about the death of a loved one, or a tragedy would be well over when the news reached the other part of the country, let alone the world. Each step of technology has brought news more quickly and made our world smaller. Radio, newsreels, television, internet. Now we are hit with news of all our friends near and wide on Facebook, and even those we do not know…the news of children suffering and of families facing great challenges. We are impacted emotionally and spiritually by all these stories, and I’m not sure our souls were made to carry so much.

 

Sometimes I think that we become incapable to reach out locally because we are overwhelmed by the needs of too many.

 

My heart has been broken along with the rest of the world as I have watched the events of Sandy Hook. I’ve avoided most of the news and filtered things so that I was not overwhelmed. I have, however, looked at each sweet face and I have prayed. I have been unable to look at my own 6 year old without thinking of shattered families. Today, though, I know that I have to release them back to their community. I do not have the right to grieve in the same way that those who knew these sweet souls and brave souls do. I grieve as a spectator. They grieve as a family, and I have to trust that they will care for one another well and they deserve to have their grief to themselves.

 

I was not made to bear the sorrows of all the country, or of all believers.

 

I was made to bear the sorrows, the joys and the trials and struggles with those within my grasp. My real, physical grasp. I can tell you the challenges that friends are facing around the country, but there are those within my grasp that I do not know their struggles. I have not reached out to them to weep and to walk alongside.

 

Sandy Hook shook us, and it should. We should spend time on our knees and we should grieve and we should hold our own children closer. But, we do not own their tragedy and it is theirs to walk through in intimacy that struggle brings…without spectators.

 

Somehow I need to translate the emotions that have been stirred by this horror to those around me who may not have as staggering a trial, but still are feeling hopeless and overwhelmed and grieving.

 

A few years ago I wanted to take a whole year with no internet. That didn’t pan out, and I realized that I have friends I rely on who I connect with through internet. It is not all bad. There are great things that the internet brings, and relationships are part of the blessing. Still….I think we have to learn to know our limitations in carrying suffering and sorrow.

 

There is only One who can carry the sorrows and the grieving and the struggles of the whole world.  I can weep and mourn because this was a tragedy and is not to be shrugged off as just part of a fallen world. Then I need to release them back to their community with a blessing that God may work in the intimacy of their relationships where they can physically care for one another and weep together without distraction of being watched by the world.