It is Thanksgiving week, and I am late with offering my few words before the T-Day feast of gladness that we are called to, because in the last weeks it feels as if all I’ve done is attend memorial services (three in three days; others earlier). Each service took place in a church. Each claimed to be a celebration of a life, filled with praise and happiness and hope. But I am left bereft, rebel that I am, wondering what happened to mourning and to grief? What happened to the acknowledgement of loss?
Are we afraid to feel an emptiness, loss? Today I heard that another dear, dear friend is fighting cancer, the Black Death plague of our time, and instead of finding myself in a state of Thanksgiving for all the blessings of our lives-—including the one that I’m still here to bless and offer thanks—instead of thanks, all I want to do is curl up in bed and grieve the loss of those I miss. As my beloved mother in law said once about a slew of funerals: “There must be something going round.” And another friend, who cracked: “People are dying who have never died before.” Yes, death.is walking round, our friend our Beloved, another of the Angels, whose business it is to wake us up and treasure each minute of each day. Give Thanks.
Look, I believe in the Afterlife and in Angels comforting us. Haven’t I seen both with my own eyes? Haven’t I, working as psychic and medium, had spirits ask to speak to a client, and don’t they always look healthy, happy? Aren’t they always offering love from the other side, asking forgiveness, adoring us? But surely the loss is what we feel on this physical plane, , and it must be recognized.
In California, thousands upon thousands of people are grieving the loss of their homes to fire, and some of them mourning lost family and friends, or trembling in fear of what happens now. Puerto Rico hasn’t yet recovered from one hurricane, and — In Mexico thousands of refugees, fleeing on foot in terror for their lives, approach our borders, blistered and footsore, where they will be confronted by a military detachment. The children of still others live separated by government fiat from their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters. In Yemen, the famine (caused in part by the policies of the USA) kills babies, leaves mothers begging, skin and bone, a population traumatized, brain injured.
Is a Thanksgiving Dinner what I want right now? I don’t know. Oh, I don’t know. Isn’t there also a time to slow down, stop, be quiet in order to simply FEEL?
I don’t mean feel the daily hyper-active cries of crises from the Daily News, but rather the approach of winter, the fading of the light, the poignant beauty of the seasons, this treasury of fleeting moments that we are given to experience in our short lives. I want everyone to get off her cellphones. I want us to remember—to BE–
So, this is what I want to tell you:
Many, many people in this world,
crowding, jostling, and each one with a story
So many stories. So many stories in just one lifetime.
It defies imagination: stories of loneliness and loss
stories of injustice and unfairness
stories of disappointment and depravation–
or of fear and the unbearable endurance
required merely to survive, to bear.
But listen, there are stories, too, of joy, the heart-songs
of praise, delight, of falling in love for the first
or maybe for the fifteenth time, and each time thinking
no one in the world has ever felt like that before, shivering with love;
each person living out in just one little lifetime
all the tales the world has ever heard,
and each one thinking
his unique, the only one ever, ever—
(because it’s his story—hers) the only one
ever, the only one that should be told.
© Sophy Burnham, 2018.
This is the weekend for sharing stories of the heart, wherever they take us. It is our mission at FaithShapes! ® that in sharing our faith, stories, and our dreams we enable and encourage others to live out that plan in ways that make a difference.
Janine C. Hagan