Yesterday, I read a beautiful, hard, heart-true post by Shawn about loss upon loss, grief upon grief. Here are just a few paragraphs of his story.
And on the day after my Grandmother dies, and on the day before her viewing, my wife miscarries. It follows the progression of birth and takes a few hours. I gather what was passed, as if sifting through all of the pain and disappointment, trying to find something, anything. And I bury what she passed in a box, under a pile of large rocks in the woods where we will soon live. On the box is the word HOPE.
There are things I forget when normal life overwhelms me with static. Yet in that empty darkness of grief, surrounded by those who love me, the static fades, and the hint of a subtle melody emerges.These words, they made my heart stop. I'm not sure why they moved me so deeply. Sometimes I see things, read things, hear things, and they wake something in me that I didn't even know was sleeping.
The comment I left Shawn was this:
What a hard, hard time. I think I would have been struggling with the why, and you were out putting hope to rest and hearing a melody. This is what faith in action must look like. Blessed assurance.
And Shawn responded:
Thank you for reading, Anna. If it is faith in action, then it is of less sturdy stuff than I have grown up believing faith should be. But I hope you’re right.
I got this comment in my email, and reading it, oh my heart crumbled. For Shawn and for myself and for every person out there walking in the woods with the remains of birth-death, looking for a place to put it to rest. Here's what I wrote Shawn back. These words are for him, but also for all of us. Because we're all either birthing or searching or burying. There's not much else.
Oh Shawn. I just read your response to my comment, that if what you did in those dark moments is faith, then it is of less sturdy stuff than what you were taught growing up. What sturdier stuff could there be? I was taught a lot about faith growing up, most of which centered around following the rules. Which now that I'm older and have been clawing through the dark for a while, I've decided is bull. Where is the rulebook for when you're drowning in depression or fired or dumped or hungry or sick? What code of conduct do you follow when your baby dies?
I say none. The life of rules and guidelines and appearances is simpler. It involves a lot less doubt and questioning and uncertainty. Is that a life of faith? Or does it take more faith to live in the in-between places, where there is laughter and love and goodness of strangers, but also tears and blood and dying. I don't know if my faith is sturdy, but in the in-between, where I am worn thin with grief and joy, God hovers near. There it's all kairos, every wrenching second.