I gave up writing for lent. Okay, I didn’t really do that and that’s a bad joke anyway. I gave up writing this year because of the way writing takes me to places in my heart I have not wanted to go to again. Indeed, as I started this post last night, I needed to process the hard again, but while I was doing that I was also reminded of the grace again. Because like it or not, they do tend to go together much of the time.
In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis says, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
Ah, and that’s the thing. I accept truth in my head, but my heart is a much harder sell. When I look back on 2014 my immediate memories are the sad ones, and…sometimes I think I actually want to dwell there as though that’s all I’ve been given this year, just bypassing the grace altogether. I think accepting grace this year means accepting the loss too and I’m not sure I’ve been willing to do that…yet.
But now I risk it. I look back and I see the grace in this year: In a friend’s second marriage, in canoeing on the lake of the camp that should have burned to the ground two years ago, in taking my still-grieving dad bowling and seeing a momentary joy come back into his eyes, in seeing success at a job I started doing just for fun, in watching the artist in my 12yo start to blossom, in…so many other ways.
It’s there. It’s all around me. It’s that dark pink shade of hope creeping around the corner of my despair.
And I’m just now coming to terms with the understanding that I don’t have to give up one in order to embrace the other. They were meant to be experienced together.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.