Monday, July 20, 2015

Consolation Wears Many Faces

'Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God's love
that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best we can.

Spiritual consolation encourages and facilitates a deep sense of gratitude
 for God's faithfulness, mercy, and companionship in our life.  

In consolation, we feel more alive and connected to others.'
St. Ignatius Loyola




Consolation wears many faces ... and maybe this sacred gift of grace is never more powerful than when we are in the midst of a fierce and raw grief.  This holy invitation beckons gently even as we weep repeatedly, uncontrollably with a depth that we've never confronted before.

Who knew that there were so many hot and stormy tears locked somewhere deep within the human soul?

Like when you had no choice but to say good-bye to your father at 11 at night in a sterile emergency room cubicle when he had already taken his leave and headed to his long-awaited heavenly home.  

And again six days later right before the casket was closed for good and locked up tight.  

And a few hours later at the graveside after the 23rd Psalm was prayed by family members young and old, and you and your sister passed out roses and kisses to each family member so that they were able to take away something sweet amidst the grievous yet grand memorial celebration.

I've always hated good-byes.  And never more than now.

Tears cascade, they well up from someplace unfathomable at the oddest moments sprinkled throughout the day and night, don't they.  A sight, a sound, a scent, a memory pushes all reason aside and you weep hard.

And then you continue to do the next thing ... depleted, drained, yet strangely relieved in some odd kind of way.

Yet through grief's rocky, unsteady path, the Christ-honoring consolation of our faith is a solid surety, intertwined with a steady flow of gratitude for the sacred faithfulness, mercy, and companionship of our God.

*

And then there is the steady consolation that comes from partaking in the rhythms of life.  

The photo shoot at day's end reminds us that our shared faith in Christ and our enduring commitment to each other are powerful cords that bind us close.  Even if we do make each other crazy from time to time.




The joyful exuberance of children's laughter and love and play.




Of prayer with hearts united and hands held, kicking off the celebration of the upcoming arrival of my sister's first grandchild this fall.




Or letting the movement of water do its healing work.




There's embracing the grace to sit absolutely still because there's no energy to do anything more and to try would be a waste of what little energy remains.

And then there are the tall glasses of icy water that chase away the humidity that hangs like a shroud.

Hands busy at the household tasks of tidying up and wading through endless loads of laundry.

Beginning to contemplate the random piles and stacks of boxes that litter the house from end to end.

The flowers.  Oh ... the flowers.  Glorious.  Fragrant.  'Pastel shades of Monet,' the florist coined them.  We are relishing their fragrant whispers, their soft textures.  

And these words here, a most calming, therapeutic penning of this post.

*

And then there is the tender consolation that has come from you, my friends.

I sift through and re-read again the sweetest avalanche of emails and texts and comments and cradle each one with deepest appreciation.  I walk to the end of the driveway and open the rusty green mailbox, smiling because you've somehow found our new address and have taken the time to send cards that speak His precious peace and bountiful hope.

I thank God for those who traveled hours to stand with me at the memorial service.  To come toting my huge, cumbersome asparagus ferns and old tin watering cans that we couldn't jam into the truck when we left New York.  And you, sweet friends, who braved the flat tire you had to deal with on the Mass Pike, but forged ahead to be with me anyway.  Your calm presence strengthened me at the end of a very difficult day and your great big hugs soothed my spirit.

And to those who showed their love by delivering all kinds of yummy food to my mom's. Your gifts of chicken in all its many forms, the mounds of fresh fruit and the lasagna and the desserts?  They kept us fed and nourished.  Without you, we'd still be staring into the wide open fridge, trying to figure out what to eat.

*

Even in our sorrows, the lovely blessings of consolation are scattered around us, right and left.  We only need open hearts to experience God's healing grace in all its fullness.  We lean hard into Him right about now.  And He lovingly scoops us up and carries us through grief's valley ...

26 comments:

  1. A beautiful picture of how we are meant to do live together. So grateful for the many who have come alongside of you and your family during this time. Keep leaning hard into Him, dear friend. Love you so. xoxo

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    1. You are a blessed encourager in my life, Beth ... and in the lives of others. I see it, I read it! You reach out and touch so many of your sisters in Christ. What a gift He has given you ...

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  2. A beautiful picture of how those with hope face the loss of one held so dearly! Praying for your family--as you navigate the uncharted waters of life without him.

    Blessings & Much Love

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    1. Oh, Lulu ... you've said it well. Uncharted waters, for sure ... trusting in the Great Navigator to guide us through the storm.

      Your post yesterday ministered to me deeply. Music touches us somewhere deep, doesn't it. Thank you, thank you, friend ...

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  3. Thank you for this wonderful exploration of the many faces and expressions of grief and celebration of a life well lived.

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    1. For sure, you knocked it out of the park with the eloquent way you represented the grandchildren at the service as you talked about the impact Dad made on your life, Jonathan. I'm so grateful. Please know that you spoke for us all, no matter what the relationship we had with him ...

      He would have said, 'JOLLY GOOD!'

      ;-}

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    2. Jolly Good indeed...it was an honor.

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  4. Oh, my dear friend, holding you close in love and prayer.

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    1. The ways you've reached out to me have brought me much comfort, June. Thank you, thank you, friend. I'm grateful you're in my life, even from afar ...

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  5. Hi Linda. What a beautifully written post. I hope God is able to further soothe you as you move through this difficult. sending an internet hug your way.

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    1. Soothe. What a comforting word! Thanks for sharing that sweet gift with me this morning, my Baltimore buddy ...

      Blessings to you, dear.

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  6. I never say Goodbye. I do, however, say "See you later."

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    1. Yes, yes, a subtle but very real difference. Thanks, Bill, for the reminder, one worth keeping close.

      Blessings, brother ...

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  7. Lifting you and your family up in prayer. I'm so sorry for this road you are traveling right now, friend.

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    1. I appreciate that you're here, Kim. Truly.

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  8. Beautiful . . . and bittersweet . . . my heart grieves with you. May God continue to hold you up, bless and comfort you hour by hour through this difficult journey.

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    1. Hour by hour! Yes, you've said it all, Dar. He's faithful and steady and oh-so-present. I am grateful! Thanks for your kind encouragements ...

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  9. I am sorry for the loss of your father. It sounds as if he will be quite content in his new home in heaven. I love to meet other bloggers who live in my neck of the woods. We are not exactly neighbors but I live in Nahant which is on the north shore of Boston.

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    1. It's so good to meet another northeast writer! I'm loving your online home, so glad that we've run into each other in recent days.

      Your gentle, peaceful spirit shines through your daily sharings ...

      ;-}

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  10. You have described for all of us and especially me exactly what grief, consolation and rejoicing feel like. Your words soothed me as I thought of my mom throughout this post that was clearly not just about your dad but how life continues and families join together in celebration and tears. Thank you for blessing me with your words today. You have helped send a little healing to a raw spot that will always be in my heart. Love you friend!

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    1. Yes, the tender spots remain, don't they, Mary. But I'm so glad that something here brought a bit of a healing touch to you.

      He does that, doesn't He ...

      But oh, the tumult of emotions along the way!

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  11. Oh, Linda,
    I felt misty as I read your words....feeling your tears mixed with gratitude at God's consolation and grace in the midst of your great sorrow at the loss of your beloved father...I will continue to pray, my friend...(((hugs))...may you continue to be gentle with yourself

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    1. Yeah, misty's a good word right about now, friend. But the gratitude remains and it is strong. I'm so grateful for His consolation ... and the comfort that friends like you are lending me.

      Thanks, Dolly. Weekend blessings to you!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your heart... Sending you big hugs and much love in Christ!

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    1. Both are received with gratitude, Bomi ...

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Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...

Linda

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