"Happiness is related to security; to being reassured.... Joy is a revelation of what was unknown before. Happiness often ends up in the placidity of boredom. Happiness is success. But joy is stimulating; it is the discovery of new continents emerging within oneself. Happiness is the absence of discord; joy is the welcoming of discord as the basis of higher harmonies. What I am emphasizing is the joy that follows confronted despair. Joy is the experience of possibility, the consciousness of one's freedom as one confronts one's destiny. In this sense, despair, when it is directly faced, can lead to joy. After despair, the one thing left is possibility." (Rollo May, Freedom and Destiny)
As I worked my way through my prayers today, I was keenly aware of those people in my church family who find themselves struggling. And I wondered, how each of them encountered this Lenten season. How does one walk the journey of Lent when one is living in the Garden of Gethsemane?
I don't know the answer to that question, or if there is an answer. From my own experiences of darkness and uncertainty, I know that the temptation to "solider on" is strong. Instead of looking into the looming darkness, it is easier to look for whom or what is responsible: to blame others, to blame self. As one who has seriously avoided dealing with grief and loss, I consider myself blessed to have wise spiritual mentors and soul friends who (lovingly) direct me towards looming shadows. They have been willing to sit and cry with me in darkness. They remind me that lamentation is prayer. They tell me what I know is true: faith is not a panacea for despair; it is reminder that Resurrection is possible.
So I did what I could for each of them: I prayed for them. I prayed for their comfort, for the Spirit's guidance, and for the support of friends and church and finally, for each of them to know some measure of joy, even in the middle of their struggles.