Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Science of Swallowing Sorrows

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”

~Victor Hugo.

Is there a more cherished task for life than managing sorrows?

Those who know this truth by experience do, indeed, cherish it. Those still on the road to that place cannot know just how resplendent is the City of God — a place with paths paved of the gold of resilience; the power for life under any and all circumstances.

Swallowing – As Imagery of Acceptance

Some things are inordinately difficult to swallow. Sorrows are such forth. The qualities of courage and patience, then, are the quotients of ease, making big and small sorrows alike, palatable.

There is nothing so important when we’re greeted with the world of loss; methods, not plastic platitudes, are required.

Swallowing is allowance. No choking, no gargling or regurgitating... but these are all too familiar. Grieving is not a linear process. It always lingers. Swallowing appropriately is honouring truth, because the truth must be honoured. Grieving is process that — handled haphazardly — can bite future hopes, dreams and plans; if it’s skirted.

Allowance for the ever-enfolding, recurring nature of coping with loss cuts important ways.

Like food, allowance doesn’t swallow until the pieces can be safely digested. The indigestion of forced coping — of not honouring the grief — means we’ll have to come back to it. But, as we chew our sorrows slowly, thoughtfully, respectfully, courageously and patiently, God honours our journey.

Then, that City of God beckons brightly. Acceptance gets us ninety percent the way there!

The Lord Never Sleeps

Ten percent. Difficult to quantify, perhaps, but God’s involved. The Lord’s ten percent — the portion honouring our ninety percent — is actually a powerful ninety-nine-point-nine percent recurring. (Maybe I’m just playing with math, but the allusion is poignant.)

This is the grace of a Lord both abounding and abundant.

Psalm 121:3 (NRSV) says:

“[The Lord] will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.”

We will neither slip nor be hurt unsuspectingly, as we venture courageously and patiently through our sorrows, if we leave them with God. Peace will be known to us.

Per the theology of Ecclesiastes, this is the skill of doing our day work — working on our chewing and swallowing — and leaving the healing of the night to the Lord; then, we’ll know this:

“Weeping may linger for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.”

~Psalm 30:5b (NRSV).

This is not happiness, grief-free, but something altogether better. It’s the Lord’s blessing; something we could not do for ourselves.

This, day by day, is the gradual though certain healing of the sorrowful soul. This science is miraculous, for it cannot be explained.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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