Sunday, May 8, 2016

Please Wait

They also serve who only stand and wait. John Milton, quoted in Griffin, Doors Into Prayer.

My mother, Judy Endress, died earlier this year, in January, 2016. Instead of ruminating about making changes, the best decisions I am making are about self-care here and now, and living well through this experience of loss.
Nothing, no one, can take your grief away
For clergy who cannot avoid facing death, dying, and grief as apart of their ministry, it is especially important to make our well being the priority.
Take time by: scheduling a private retreat, seeking a skilled counselor, seeing a spiritual director, listening to the waves roar and the birds echo. 

Grief is not easy nor is it temporary. There's no "getting over it," nor is there a solace that removes the reality of the loss. There's no "cheering up" or feeling good because the deceased lived relatively happy and long, or died some kind of hero. There is not a pill nor a therapist nor a Bible verse that is going make it all better, to take our grief away. What would it be like if Jesus, instead of breaking down in desolation at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, started quoting Bible verses to Mary and Martha? 

After a significant loss, there's nothing magical about waiting a year or more before making major decisions. It allows us to experience a year of seasons and holidays and times in which I mark my loss.  
One of the most helpful readings I have come across is from Fenelon, the French Archbishop and spiritual director of the later half of the Seventeenth Century. Because his sermons and other writings were destroyed (unhappily by his own church ), only his letters to spiritual directees survive today.

Here is an excerpt from The Seeking Heart 
Never make important decisions in a state of distress. You just are not able to see clearly...
When you are in a place of calm and quiet rest, do all that you sense within your spirit. But to suppose you are level-headed when you are in the agony of distress is to set yourself up to make a mistake... Any experienced spiritual counselor will tell you not to make decisions until you regain your peace and re-enter inward prayer. Never trust yourself when you are suffering greatly because your nature is so unreasonable and upset...

It is as clear as day that you will fail to do what God wants if you act when your old nature is feeling deeply wounded to the point of despair. Wait until you are not feeling so hurt. Be open to every alternative that God might suggest.
The peace of Christ be with your spirit. 

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