Yesterday’s Gospel reading had this fabulous phrase in it: rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do so everyday? The reality is that some circumstances preclude us from feeling that way. The last few weeks I have had devastating news from friends about events in their lives. While Easter happened on the calendar, it has not occurred in real time yet for them. I do believe it will come for them, sometime, somehow.
I have had some excellent conversations lately. I am abundantly blessed with good people in my life who will push the envelope of their comfort zones. Some days I have been so totally self-absorbed due to my illness that I have forgotten other people and their needs. When I see my compassionate self shake off the dust and rise to greet another’s pain I am grateful. This is a part of me that I miss. I wonder how much I have not shared with others because I have not been able to be as present as I normally am. Alternatively I do not always remember due to the fatigue everything I have been told and that frustrates me some. I am learning to be accepting of all the emotions that come, whether I like them or not.
Tonight I cannot seem to concentrate on this post, my mind utterly distracted by some news that is heartbreaking. Even the weather here seems to echo its dismay, with snow covering the ground. Now though as I review my day, I find myself returning to a CBC Radio interview this morning by a woman who has written a book on grief, called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband suddenly while on vacation in 2015. Her life changed in the blink of an eye. For those of us who have ever faced trauma, we never want to fully embrace Option B. The only way we survive Option B is eventually to seek joy and build resilience relentlessly. I appreciated Sandberg’s honesty and raw pain as she told her story.
Once we lean into the pain, we can move through and beyond it. She talks about accepting the emotions, acknowledging the elephant in the room, and gives us some tips about how to help those who are grieving. You can listen to them in the interview link above. I have been thinking through some of the advice I would give if I were talking to people about how to assist me, as a person who is dying. Here are some of the tidbits I came up with:
- Emphasize the living, not the dying, in my life. Help me find the indescribable joy in life by inviting me to fun events and creating memories that will bring a smile when we think of them.
- Join the kitchen dance movement. Start your day by dancing with joy and abandonment. Send me good thoughts while you do this.
- A friend made my name part of her password so that she remembers me each time she needs to unlock her computer. You can pause to say a quick prayer when you do this. Prayer is the best action you can do for me.
- Ask me what I need in a specific way that fits your skill set. If you are an awesome cook or baker, drop me off some food in disposable containers. Send me home with leftovers after a shared meal. If you are a neat freak, offer to come and give me an hour of cleaning. If you like to walk, invite me to join you.
- Share your life with me. I still need to know that I can be of help to you when I have the energy to be present.
- Surprise me with cheerful cards or emails to affirm my journey and encourage me. Keep it real. Acknowledge something I may have done or said or just let me know you are thinking of me with love.
- Be flexible with my schedule. I am not the same person I used to be physically, though I look pretty healthy. Give me the ease to cancel or postpone when I need to.
- Know that I am grateful, even if I forget to say so. I am appreciative of all the acts of kindnesses that come my way.
- Be patient with me as I try to prioritize my new lifestyle. This is a great gift as it relieves stress.
- Help me to see God in all things. God is ever-present in ways that we might miss if we are not paying attention. I am open to being reminded of this by you showing me a sign of beauty around me that I did not see, sharing a story that makes me know the Divine Presence is at work, or inviting me to participate in the indescribable and glorious joy of the moment.
What indescribable and glorious joy are you experiencing lately?
What heartbreak threatens to keep you from ever rising?
Indescribable and Glorious Joy-Giver, help us to learn to rejoice even when it is the last thing on earth we want to do. Somewhere out of the darkness, we will rise and under the snow, those spring flowers will survive. Joy can also be inexplicable at times but we thank you for it. I believe in you and the resurrection. Amen.