Somewhere along the decade of my thirties I realized I needed a sturdier foundation for all the grief I saw in my own life and in the lives of people around me. I began to rely on others who could sit with me in my grief rather than try to persuade me out of it. This became the sort of value that defined my relationships -- those who welcomed me into their own suffering and shared mine became my dearest friends.
A few years ago during Lent as I researched mourning practices around the world for my submission to Christ Church's Lenten devotional, I stumbled on the words of Ranier Maria Rilke in his Requiem for a Friend:
"Once, ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all is silent. Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned. /
the lament that we omitted."
That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve
This phrase "retrieve lament" added to my understanding that part of Christ's ministry to us through His life, His Spirit and His people is to "retrieve the lament that we omitted". I count it a high privilege to know -- at least in small part -- stories of suffering in the lives of many friends and family -- illness, relational disillusionment, infertility, anxiety, joblessness, death of loved ones, death of dearly-held dreams, and more.
These stories have helped form me in my understanding of suffering and so I make an effort to share a handful or so of those stories on the blog each year.
During Holy Week, invite several guest posts fitting into the overall theme "Retrieve Lament". You can see posts from previous years at the following links:
Kaley Ehret, Shannon Coelho, Haley Ballast, Brian Murphy, Nancy Gilmore Hill, Sharon O'Connor and a summary from me here.