Gratitude in Grief

It has been a long and terrible year. Like never before, we need the comradery and joy of gathering together, of sharing our longing and love with family and friends. And yet, in yet another cruel twist of 2020 fate, most of us will have to endure a Thanksgiving holiday separated from the people we love. And for hundreds of thousands of Americans, this day marks the first holiday mourning someone they’ve lost.

What is there to be grateful for when are filled with grief and longing, when we feel sorrowful for all we’ve lost this year?

The mystics often spoke of their contemplative practice as being “Alone with the Alone.” At the root of this aloneness, this longing, is the Great Love in which we live and move and have our being.

This Love once spoke: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Great grief springs from great love. If today seems hollow, sad, and mournful, it is only because it was once filled with gatherings of gratitude, joy, and fullness.

Gatherings that we once took for granted.

It is normal to be sad today, to miss our family and friends. Jesus loved to eat and drink with people. He loved to be invited somewhere to dine with both the sinners and the saints. And his primary image of God’s Kingdom was a feast, a meal, a precious gathering of loved ones.

When God is All in All, when all grief leads us to Great Love, we will no longer know the deep longing and pain of this day.

But for now, we can try to find gratitude in the grief. In the great love that will always lead us to great mourning, and then somehow, into ever greater and deeper love, until God will be All in All, and we can all gather together again.

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