On June 20th, we closed with this in our Reflection:
What is our deepest work? To be strong when someone does not have their own strength. To listen when one feels unheard. To believe in another’s goodness and light when they can not see it in themselves. To believe in another’s blessings when they seem impossible to see. To be there until they can see and hear and believe for themselves.
And so, in ordinary times, maybe we do the extraordinary ordinary.
Sometimes it is our turn to minister.
Sometimes, it is our turn to be ministered to.
Blessed are those who Mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who Mourn, for they shall be comforted.
What does comforted mean? We may all have very different ideas of what comfort means. We may all have very different needs when we seek comfort and solace. We have short term comforts. We have long term comforts. Some are healthy choices of comfort, some…not so much. Some are actually comforting, some…not so much. And, of course, there’s everything in between.
What is comforting? What does it mean to be comforted?
How can we possibly be comforted when we mourn? When we experience our deepest losses? How can we even believe that “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”? Perhaps this is something we need to practice believing and knowing before we need it, so that it is a part of who we are before we deeply mourn and need comfort. Perhaps this is one of the strengths of being in community.
It can be pretty hard to be mourning and feel comforted…let alone blessed. We’ve reflected before on the stages of grief and moving through experiences at our own pace and time. We’ve reflected on Blessed. We’ve all experienced what mourning feels like.
But what is comfort?
Comfort comes from the latin and means “with strength”. With strength. It brings a different feeling when you reflect on it this way:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be “with strength”.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be with strength.
It sure may not feel like it in the moments of pain, but those who mourn are definitely with strength.
Look at the ordinary for starters. It takes a lot of strength to put on real clothes, a pair of real shoes, and walk out the front door to face the world in times of grief. It can feel isolating. It can feel like no one understands. It can be difficult to know how to be “normal”, when everything feels like it’s fallen apart. It takes a lot of strength to do the ordinary things in times of grief. Just…eating…
Food is an act of comfort for a reason. Not only does it literally bring nourishment and strength, but it is an ordinary thing that is often so hard. It is comforting to be reminded to do ordinary things, to remember ordinary things, like eating. Eating sets the stage for all those other ordinary things and tasks. Food is Comfort. And important…
I remember once being at a funeral and there was all this wonderful wine and these lovely pupu platters of pretty food, but nothing of sustenance. There was no real food. No substance, just prettiness, and dinner was a long way off. I truly understood what it meant to need to be “with strength”. Or, without strength. There was no strength for the process of grief.
I remember wishing at that time for a bunch of neighbors that couldn’t think of anything else to do but bring food and how literally comforting that is. We often feel like it’s not enough, but it is enough. And often mundanely necessary. It’s how we comfort.
Grief is something on a most primal and basic level of being. We can not escape it.
Food is a most primal and basic balm. We can not escape it.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. And as we saw in that last reflection, it is our job to give strength to one another. When we are strong, it is our greatest gift to be of strength to others. It is, we might say, God’s work in this world. The process of grief and comfort is different for each of us, but the comfort is that comfort will come. This is both a Faith and a Truth.
In grief, these deep emotions, it seems that God is called to be present with us. The emotion is so primal and loud that the divine can not help but notice. It seems in these times of deepest grief is the potential for the deepest comfort. Grace is there in one another, in our hearts, in God, in Faith….we only need allow.
It is in the raw emotion of grieving that we crack open and create space for Grace. Our hard shells and armors become soft with raw grief that we can be comforted. The daily armors of self will and self identity, this separateness of being, fall away. We can not help but realize our connection to something deeper than the ordinary day to day. Whether we call it Grace or God, or something else, whether we call it divine or spirit, whether we call it universe or nature, or nothing at all…there is an opening.
Hard shells break open for the light of grace and comfort.
Hard armor softens for grace and comfort.
The hard armor of suffering is an illusion. We hold to it to feel safe; ironically, in those moments when we most learn that there is no “safe” in the sense we are clinging to.
It is through our grief and comforts that we can know a deeper Grace and comfort. We discover “safe” on a big level. That “safe” does not mean that bad things won’t happen, but despite all the stuff on the journey of life experiences, we can be truly, truly, safe and strong and comforted.
It is through our suffering that we realize our basic unity and connection. It is when we walk though the path of grief that we realize that we are never alone. Our suffering is universal. Our grief is universal. Our love is universal. Our personal pain may be our own, but the stuff of suffering and grief and comfort is a shared reality.
And when we move through and beyond our own grief and suffering…we grow. We find more places where the divine has crept in through the cracks. We find more places where the day to day armor has softened into something more powerful.
We find ourselves comforted. We find ourselves “with strength”. We find that we ourselves can become Comforters. Because our lives become more when we can give. Because we all become stronger when we share our joys, our sorrows, and our concerns.
Because our lives are blessed when we soften the armors to allow and create and build connection with one another. When we take the risks of vulnerability. We are blessed when we are in need of comfort and allow for the grace of comfort to heal when our lives feel shattered. When we allow the light to pierce through the cracks and reflect on those broken shards. When strength and comfort comes in all those unexpected and mysterious ways. Often, never, in the way we would have chosen. That Mystery thing again.
We are blessed when we have grown and learned and been blessed through our hurts and grief to become the ones who comfort. To become real workers of Love in this world.