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This Luminous Darkness

posted Dec 22, 2015, 8:32 AM by Farar Elliott
As we approach the wonder that is Christmas, I am keenly aware that many among us have heavy hearts and spirits wracked with grief.  I came across this beautiful blog entry by Jan Richardson, author, artist and United Methodist pastor.  May her story and the stories of Advent and Christmas be suitable companions on your journey through this season.  KL+

By Jan Richardson 

"My husband died on the second day of Advent 2013, several weeks after experiencing massive complications during what we had anticipated would be routine surgery. In that season, my primary Advent practices involved such things as remembering to breathe, eat, and sleep as I began to navigate the awful and bewildering terrain of grief. >Two years later, I still sometimes have to remember to engage in those practices. But this year,as I navigated the second anniversary of Gary's death and entered into Advent once again, I became aware of a keen desire to move through this season in a different way. Just what way, I wasn't sure.

I searched for resources for Advent and mourning. In my searching, I was struck by how so many of those resources take a strategic approach, offering guidelines for how to manage grief during the holidays. It's good to have some strategies for coping with the innumerable triggers that can so easily exacerbate sorrow during this season. At the same time, I knew that my grief was asking me to do something more than manage it.

If I have learned anything about grief in the past two years, it is that grief is a wild creature. Grief will resist every attempt to tame it, to control it, or to keep it tidy and well-behaved. Rather than managing it, grief asks instead that we tend it, listen to it, question it. One of the surest ways to calm it is to give it some space in which to speak-or to holler, or weep.

I have learned also that grief loves stories. Resistant as grief is to pat answers, logic, and linear thinking, it finds a natural home within the landscape of a story, where meaning appears not so much in facts or formulas as in metaphors, symbols, and the unpredictable pathways of narrative.

As I thought about what I need in this season, and how I want not just to abide this Advent but to move through it with intention and openness, I found myself naturally drawn to some of the greatest gifts this season gives us: its stories. In the sacred texts that accompany us in Advent and Christmas, we find an extraordinarily rich landscape that, for all its darkness, is luminous with story. This luminous landscape holds particular treasures for those of us traveling through this season in the company of grief."