POETRY: Tears by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

February 6, 2019

Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not More grief than ye can weep for. That is well— That is light grieving! lighter, none befell Since Adam forfeited the primal lot. Tears! what are tears? The babe weeps in its cot, The mother singing; at her marriage-bell The bride weeps, and before the oracle Of high-faned hills the poet has forgot Such moisture on his cheeks. Thank God for grace, Ye who weep only! If, as some have done, Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place And touch but tombs,—look up! those tears will run Soon in long rivers down the lifted face, And leave the vision clear for stars and [...]

POETRY: I Wanted Only A Little by Jane Hirshfield

August 31, 2018

I wanted, I thought, only a little, two teaspoons of silence— one for sugar, one for stirring the wetness. No. I wanted a Cairo of silence, a Kyoto. In every hanging garden mosses and waters. The directions of silence: north, west, south, past, future. It comes through any window one inch open, like rain driven sideways. Grief shifts, as a grazing horse does, one leg to the other. But a horse sleeping sleeps with all legs [...]

POETRY: The Misery Cord by Les Murray

June 20, 2018

In Memory of F. S. Murray  Misericord. The Misery Cord. It was lettered on a wall. I know that cord, how it’s tough to break however hard you haul. My cousin sharefarmed, and so got half: half dignity, half hope, half income, for his full work. To get a place of his own took his whole lifetime. Some pluck the misery chord from habit or for luck, however they feel, some to deceive, and some for the tune— but sometimes it’s real. Milking bails, flannel shirts, fried breakfasts, these were our element, and doubling on horses, and shouting Score! at a dog yelping on a hot scent— but an ambulance racing on our back road is bad news for us all: the house of community is about to lose a plank from its wall. Grief is nothing you can do, [...]

BLESSING: This Day We Say Grateful, by Jan Richardson

May 12, 2017

From: The Painted Prayerbook It is a strange thing to be so bound and so released all in the same moment, to feel the heart open wide and wider still even as it turns to take its leave. On this day, let us say this is simply the way love moves in its ceaseless spiraling, turning us toward one another, then sending us into what waits for us with arms open wide to us in welcome and in hope. On this day, in this place where you have poured yourself out, where you have been emptied and filled and emptied again, may you be aware more than ever of what your heart has opened to here, what it has tended and welcomed here, where it has broken in love and in grief, where it has given and received blessing in the unfathomable mystery that moves us, [...]

POETRY: About Angels And About Trees by Mary Oliver

May 3, 2017

Where do angels fly in the firmament, and how many can dance on the head of a pin? Well, I don’t care about that pin dance, what I know is that they rest, sometimes, in the tops of the trees and you can see them, or almost see them, or, anyway, think: what a wonderful idea. I have lost as you and others have possibly lost a beloved one, and wonder, where are they now? The trees, anyway, are miraculous, full of angels (ideas); even empty they are a good place to look, to put the heart at rest—all those leaves breathing the air, so peaceful and diligent, and certainly ready to be the resting place of strange, winged creatures that we, in this world, have [...]

POETRY: I Have Stood At The Center Of The World by Catherine McNiel

March 14, 2017

I have stood at the center of the world The primordial Tree, the innocent Beginning I have been rejected there, exiled So I wander Homeless, yet seeking Home Marked, yet seeking I have traveled so far in my wanderings That I have changed, the distance became a chasm And yet I have stayed so closely tied Lingering near with hope for Healing Longing I stand in the place of Anger and Accusation Watching the last box of bitterness carried out the door Alone now with the vast emptiness in its place There’s nothing left to do but this endless Wandering and lingering I have forgiven But you have forgotten Even a child casts her own shadow The past has built itself into my body and soul And there it is: The bruised and fallen apple is its [...]

JESUS: He Weeps, by M. G. J. Beets

January 31, 2017

From The Wordless Voice Jesus wept. The Jews then said: “Look how he has loved him.” Some of them said: “Could this man who has opened the eyes of a blind man not have done something so that Lazarus would not have died?” (John 11:35-37) We assume, as a consequence of our approach to the gospel as a philosophical text of the highest importance which we are trying to understand in depth, that there is nothing we are told about Christ that does not have a special significance. In the verses 11:33 and 35 we are told that Jesus is distressed and that he weeps.  These words certainly mean that Christ shares with us our human emotion of grief and so, that he weeps becuase someone he loves has died and because of his [...]

POETRY: The Road To Emmaus, by Spencer Reese

November 18, 2016

For Nathan Gebert I The chair from Goodwill smelled of mildew. I sat with Sister Ann, a Franciscan. In her small office, at the Cenacle Retreat House, right off Dixie Highway in Lantana, Florida, I began my story— it was an interview, much of life is an interview. She said I did not need to pay her, but donations, yes, donations were appreciated: they could be left anonymously in a plain white envelope that she could take back to the cloister. She was dressed in a turtleneck and a denim jumper. She could have been mistaken in a grocery store for an aging housewife. My meetings with her went on for a few years. I had come to speak about Durell. I did not know how to end sentences about Durell. He had taught me—what? To live? Not to [...]

POETRY: Through Solid Rock, by Rainer Maria Rilke

October 28, 2015

I think I am passing through solid rock, as the ore lies, alone. Everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone. I don’t have much knowledge yet in pain, so this massive darkness makes me small. You break in! So Your great transformation will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to [...]

POETRY: Lament Psalm Sixteen, by Ann Weems

July 1, 2015

O God, will this night never end? Give me sleep, O God! Give me rest! Erase from my memory the moments of his death. Blot out the terror and the ever-present fear and let me sleep. I lie upon this bed tortured by thoughts that come unbidden. The night is full of demons. They stand upon my heart until I cannot breathe. There is nothing in my world this night except his death. O God, bring the morning light. Is it not enough that he is dead? That there is nothing I can do to change what is? Must I spend each night revisiting the unlit corridors of death? O God, be merciful! Bring the dawn! Come into this night and tear it into day! O my God, you are hope. You take the bonds of death and break them into pieces of life. The demons of the night [...]

HEALING: Praying For Those Who Grieve, by Charles H. Kraft

June 25, 2015

From Deep Wounds, Deep Healing The culture of our Western society has made ministry to those who are grieving a difficult task.  The belief that we should not show weakness in the face of difficulty tends to keep many in bondage to the wounds and hurts suffered during the death of a close friend or family member.   Even our churches have tended to frown on those who say, “I’m not okay.  I need help.”  Instead, we want to keep our grief and sorrow bottled up inside, holding the view that repression is the best option.  Such a custom is very damaging.  For we know that grief and sorrow are powerful emotions that, if suppressed, cause real damage.  Those who have suppressed their emotions usually suffer deeply until the damage [...]

POETRY: The Wind, One Brilliant Day, by Antonio Machado

May 6, 2015

Translated from the Spanish by Robert Bly The wind, one brilliant day, called to my soul with an odor of jasmine. “In return for the odor of my jasmine, I’d like all the odor of your roses.” “I have no roses; all the flowers in my garden are dead.” “Well then, I’ll take the withered petals and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.” The wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself: “What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to [...]

HEALING: On The Path To Hell

December 12, 2013

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into Heaven.  (The Apostle’s Creed) Why hell? Why after all that he endured did he have to go to hell?  Did he go to the frozen blackness, put on ice, as it were, until the necessary changes took place in his body?  Or did he go to the fiery reaches, there to have the imperfections of his earthly body burned into a new state of cleanliness? It is Advent.  Advent ends in Christmas.  So, for me, it is a walk.  A serious walk.  Sometimes a very slow walk. This year I received my prayer [...]

POETRY: Elegy For The Emptied Prairie, by Benjamin Dombroski

December 12, 2013

—Gascoyne, North Dakota The same flies that cloud huge, open eyes of dying beat thin bodies against the windows of an abandoned one room school-house buckled to a wave of tawny prairie grass. Slant of autumn light, wind thumbing through open drill-books and pinned to a wall, the map of the world after the last war yellows in the sun. Hawaii and Alaska await statehood. English steamers drift at anchor off Cape Town and Calcutta. Sailors sweating in heat. Their pink skin burns. And six petty German thieves dressed in the drab of infantry are made to kneel in dew-wet leaves deep in a wood along the Polish border. The very end of August 1939—quiet night, dust of stars scrawled through interstices of ancient trees. Only the last one will [...]

SUFFERING: Grief As Gratitude, by Tim P. VanDuivendyk

December 12, 2013

From The Unwanted Gift Of Grief The Wilderness Of Grief: The “Way” To Transformation Many words and pictures come to mind when I think of the journey through grief, but I keep coming back to the word “wilderness.”  The wilderness is not just a physical place but also a spiritual and emotional place.  In the wilderness of grief we may not know which direction to take.  Feelings of fear may paralyze us.  We may not be able to see through the thick forest to tomorrow.  Our courage may fail.  In the wilderness the body, mind, and spirit journey through dry deserts, blinding rains, lonely storms, long nights, and dormant winters – searching for springtime.  We search for light and hope and have no assurance that the direction [...]