Embodied Joy

Taste and See

I participated in a neo-pagan ritual today. Yes, I, a Christian, participated in a ritual led by a friend who understands himself to be neo-pagan. Not only did I participate, but I felt joy and connection to God, to creation, and to those gathered with me in a way I almost never do in the Christian worship services I am part of. The reason for this is not the beliefs espoused by either tradition, but how those beliefs are performed in the context of worship – how those beliefs are ritualized.

This morning, my friend led us out of the dark chapel space into the adjoining courtyard, carrying a bouquet of beautiful flowers. I followed carrying a vase of water and a carafe of honey and another person carried the bread. Moving the gathering outdoors was a last-minute decision based on the beauty of the day. A few of us took our shoes off and felt the cool dampness of the spring-time earth beneath our feet. In my opinion, we should find ways to have church out of doors as often as possible and shoes should certainly be optional.

We centered ourselves, remembering those things which root us, which are foundations of our being. For me, God in Christ was the image that filled my soul during that space. We offered thanksgiving for the earth and its bounty, pouring water as each person spoke his or her thankfulness. These visible signs and external actions might be “adiaphora” but they connect us to our words and thoughts and help us live into our embodied-spirit reality.

Then, we sang and took hands, and danced. Really it was less dancing than running in circles as we held hands, much as I remember doing as a child, and we sang as we ran/danced, snaking back and forth until the circle re-formed. We moved as one body. How often in church do we physically enact becoming the one body of Christ which we proclaim and are called to be?

My friend then poured the honey decadently over the bread and we broke off the sticky pieces and handed them to one another with the words, “thrive in life” and we ate the sweetness of the good fruits of the earth and licked the sweetness off of our fingers. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good! How often have we solemnly chewed bland communion bread and felt its heaviness? Would it ruin the sacrament for the bread to be honey-sweet and deliciously light?

Regardless of my theological differences with the neo-pagan tradition, I saw joy and gratitude embodied in ritual today in a way I have rarely, if ever, seen in my own Lutheran-Christian tradition. I wonder, is there space for joy in our rituals? If not, what does that say about us and the God we claim?

 

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Reflection after Lent

If you were following my “Lenten Journey” you probably noticed that I quit blogging about it after Day 24. I kept up the prayer routine of 20 minutes of daily silent meditation, but the additional 20 minutes of trying to think of something to say about it ended up being time I just didn’t have.

I lead an extremely busy and full life. Most of what I do, I really enjoy. I do wonder how I would feel about the various things that fill my life if I actually focused on it for more than the seemingly too few minutes each week I can spare for each activity. What would it be like to read deeply and thoroughly rather than skimming for the most pertinent information for the upcoming paper? What would it be like to write and have time to revise, re-think, and re-write? What would it be like to have time to be passionate about something?

Then I think about all of the people who have not had the privilege and opportunity I have. Whose economic, social, or other circumstances have prevented them from following, or even from finding, their passions. I am only beginning to grasp, in a more-than-intellectual way, the incredible privilege I have.

Great Power, Indeed

He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Homily preached on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 7pm at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL.

Gospel Text: John 20:19-31

Maybe you’ve heard of “doubting Thomas” – the disciple who missed Jesus’ resurrection appearance and seems to have been maligned for all time because he asked for nothing more than what the other disciples had already received. Throughout history, Thomas has been ridiculed for needing to see Jesus for himself and this text has been used to make churches inhospitable to those of us who sometimes find it hard to believe everything that we’ve heard about Jesus.

Sure, we can take the historical context into account and note that the author of this gospel was writing to communities who were a generation or two after Jesus. For these communities, the witness of text was the only witness they had. This helps me cringe a little less when I hear what still feels like Jesus’ admonition of Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

That said, I will still admit that I’d still rather be more certain. I’d still rather have Jesus appear to me directly and obviously, even if it means I’m not quite as blessed. I’m still a little jealous of those early followers who saw and ate with the risen Christ in a way that didn’t require quite as much theologizing as the ways I experience Jesus.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if, after being resurrected, Jesus had just stuck around in bodily form, accompanying humanity from age to age. In my imagination any way, having Jesus around would mean less war, less hunger, less hatred, less poverty, and that seems pretty good to me.

But God has a different approach. Rather than holding on to all of the power, the power to heal, the power to make peace, the power to love and to speak truth, and to forgive, rather than holding on to all of those powers, God willingly gives power away, to the disciples, breathing on them, bestowing the power of the Holy Spirit on them.

Now, in our culture, we usually imagine that giving power away means that our power diminishes, but for God sharing power, sharing the power to heal, to love, to forgive, to make peace, sharing that power makes that power grow. By empowering – by literally placing God’s power in the Holy Spirit into the disciples – God spread the good news of the gospel throughout the world and this good news continues to spread!

God didn’t just give power away to those first disciples. God gives each of us power. Just as Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit, God breathes on each of us. For some of us, it was in the waters of baptism that we became aware of God’s breath animating our lives. For some of us the bread and cup connect us to the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of us are still waiting for God to breathe new life into us.

This breath that God breathes into us, the power that God shares with us, is great power, indeed. Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” This power, whether we feel it or not, belongs to each of us. How will I use that power given to me by Jesus through the Holy Spirit? How will you? How should we, as a church, use this power? What happens if we choose not to?

God, grant us wisdom and compassion, that we might use well the power you have shared with us, so that all the world might know the good news of your grace, lived so fully in your child, Jesus Christ, our teacher, our guide, our redeemer. Amen.

Locked in the Upper Room

Sermon preached on April 27, 2014 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL.

Gospel: John 20:19-31

Locked Door

 

We resume the story of Jesus’ resurrection only a matter of hours after Mary has discovered the empty tomb, and has herself had an encounter with the risen Jesus. Our gospel text at the Easter Vigil ended with Mary declaring to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And what is the result of her proclamation? The disciples gather together and lock the doors. They are afraid. But, I would like to believe that they are afraid because they haven’t yet seen Jesus for themselves, and, just like “doubting Thomas” the disciple for whom this text is often named, the rest of the disciples also need Jesus to show up to them, in person, before they will be able to go out and proclaim the good news to all the world. But the story doesn’t conform to what I would like to believe.

You see, Jesus does appear to them, gathered as they are behind locked doors. And although you’d think this would send them out into the streets proclaiming the triumph of God’s kingdom. It will take several more appearances by Jesus before anyone proclaims anything. A week later, when Jesus returns, and our famous friend Thomas is invited to put his fingers into the wounds of Christ, the disciples are gathered behind locked doors.

This gives me pause. Last Sunday we exuberantly celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. We dove fully into the joy of our triumphant savior rising from the grave. We lived in the space that Mary inhabited as she raced back from the empty tomb, the words “I have seen my Lord” were springing from our lips just as they had sprung from hers. Now though, the initial joy having calmed, we are faced with the question that stalled those first disciples. What on earth and in heaven does this mean?

In a crass sense, it means that Jesus wins. It means that all of that stuff that Jesus taught about caring for the poor and vulnerable, forgiving one another, loving our enemies, seeking the good for our neighbor, and not just the neighbor that lives next door, but the neighbor across the city and the one on the other side of the world. It means that these things are not just the utopian dreams of a failed reformer whose beautiful vision we could bury right alongside him in the tomb.

So, now I understand why, a week after the resurrection, we find the disciples still in that upper room. As Christians, we have a couple thousand years of tradition behind us and we still don’t always know what to do with the resurrected Jesus. That’s how upsetting and controversial God’s way of being in the world can be, especially to those of us for whom the status quo works fairly well.

I met a minister named Al Sharp the other day. If you’ve heard of an organization called Protestants for the Common Good, Al was the executive director of that organization for about 15 years and Al has a very clear picture of how Christians should respond to Jesus’s resurrection. He is convinced that Christians should go about seeking justice for our neighbors. I would say even that Al holds an uncompromising expectation for Christian engagement in the world. Al is kind of like Jesus in this way. And this is what makes me uncomfortable about both of them. There’s not really much wiggle room.

If I read the gospels, I see that Jesus makes his agenda really clear: feed people, heal them, reach out to the vulnerable, visit people who are in prison, turn the other cheek, walk another mile. Now, scholars do tell us that some of these actions prescribed by Jesus meant something different in Jesus’s time than they do to us. But there is no historical circumstance I can use to explain away Jesus’s agenda of bringing good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed. And if I translate what Jesus was doing back in first century Palestine into today’s language, well, I think Jesus would be going to Cook County Jail and the underpasses along Lakeshore Drive and to the immigrant detention center and to Springfield and City Hall and probably Washington, too. Of course, in Jesus’s vision of the world, we wouldn’t need, Care for Real, or One Northside, Cook County Jail or any of the other myriad organizations some which serve… or contain… the most vulnerable and most oppressed members of our society. These “social problems” are symptoms of the deeper reality that our human society, the kingdom of the world, falls short of the vision of God.

Jesus came to live into God’s vision – a vision where the vulnerable are not isolated by institution or geography but where the lepers are close enough to touch and the mute are close enough that we hear their stories and the blind are so close that we see them as beloved children of God and that we recognize ourselves in all of them. Jesus died for his radical acclamation of this kingdom of love, mercy, and freedom. And he was raised by a God who refused to let that vision die.

Now, our tradition has not, historically, been oriented to that kind of action. The way our theology of grace has been interpreted has caused teachers and preachers, and the institutional church to shy away from taking a stand on what it means to live after the resurrection of Jesus. We have played it safe and, quite frankly, have sometimes found ourselves on the wrong side of history because of it. Our tradition steps uneasily through the language about transforming the world, which is God’s work, after all.

But, having read the scriptures, having traveled the three days of Jesus washing his disciples feet, dying on the cross, and being raised again, I have to concede that God has made a powerful case that I, as one who has spent time with Jesus and seeks to follow him, must not only consider with sympathy the plight of my neighbor, but also must visit him in jail, break bread with her and her children, and work to ensure that all people have adequate housing and receive fair wages, to bring the discussion to a more contemporary context. Many of you, I know, are directly involved in or contribute financially to organizations that seek to serve the vulnerable and that are seeking to change the system that marginalizes and oppresses vulnerable groups. But, if any of you are feeling guilty or put-upon right now, know that you’re hearing this from one who is suffering from the deep conviction of the inadequacy of my own life before God in the world beside my neighbor. I am like the disciples, locked in the upper room after Jesus has already appeared the first time, paralyzed by the implications of Jesus’s resurrection for my life, my worldview, and my faith. The magnitude of the task at hand and the complexity of the systems of injustice in this world are, to say the least, daunting.

And as I sit paralyzed, Jesus comes back, over and over again, in the Word read and proclaimed, in the waters of baptism that call us all children of God, equally loved in God’s eyes, in the Eucharist given freely for all. Jesus comes back for the ones who have not yet experienced his resurrection for themselves, like Thomas, but also for the ones who are still, or again, locked in the upper room. Oh Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Christ is Risen! Christ is here among us!

Christ is Risen!Sermon from Easter Vigil, April 19, 2014 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL

Gospel Text: John 20:1-18

It is good to be here tonight with you all! Gathered as people have gathered for thousands of years to tell the stories of our faith. Stories in which God does amazing things. Stories in which God brings light and life out of darkness and death. Stories of people whose radical encounter with God changed the trajectory of their lives forever.

And this last story, the one where the women go early in the morning and Mary finds the empty tomb and the stone rolled away, and she thinks that Jesus’ body has been stolen, until Mary encounters the risen Jesus. It wasn’t the empty tomb that made her believe. It was when Jesus called her name. It was when Jesus appeared to her personally. So it is not the empty tomb that we celebrate; but the resurrected Christ who encounters his disciples and his beloved. Encounters that we will be sharing in the weeks to come, but, at some point, our scriptures stopped recording stories of people’s encounters with Jesus. And so we might think that is not how it happens anymore, that we are left only with other people’s remembrances.

But, perhaps you have had the experience of Jesus showing up at unexpected times. Just like in the stories we told tonight where God shows up in history. Perhaps in our own stories, in the stories of this place and this people and in of each one of us. Perhaps God shows up there, too.

Of course, the troubling thing, I suppose is that most often it seems where God shows up is in the midst of death, destruction, and darkness. And frankly, I’d rather not go there.

But the promise, at least, in Christ is that, as long as there is death in the world, Christ will continue to show up, God will continue to show up and work resurrection. And we are called to be messengers of this resurrection; we are called to find those moments and to cry out as Mary did, “I have seen the Lord!”

But those moments can be hard to spot. So I thought I would share a couple of moments with you.

When a person is baptized into the Body of Christ and we pour water over their head…

Or when a choir meets a young South African who has just learned she is HIV positive and sings her back into her community and invites her to join the choir that will sing others back into their communities…

When the church makes space for those the world has cast aside as unstable or useless …

Or when the choir and a whole army of volunteers show up to a Monday morning funeral…

When parents wash children’s feet and little ones lay flowers on the cross…

When a man, rejected from the church he so loves, finds belonging when a pastor marches in a pride parade…

When the common cup of communion is freely offered to all who would like to partake…

When a congregation opens its doors and heart and space to the neighborhood and risks all the headaches of hospitality…

Perhaps you recognized some of these moments… these moments are from stories you all have shared with me, or that I have experienced in this place.

Christ is present among this community, in each one of you and as we gather here.

And I wonder, as we have listened to the stories of God in history, what stories would you tell? What stories will this church tell into the future of how Christ has shown up?

What an exciting moment we have all come to be a part of!

What an exciting story to carry out into the world!

Avoid Resurrection, If You Can

Lazarus

Sermon from April 6, 2014. As preached (more or less) at the 10:30am service at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL.

Gospel Text: John 11:1-45

Grace, peace, and mercy to you from God, the fountain of our life, and Jesus, our redeemer.

Here’s my advice, avoid resurrection.

I know that sounds weird. But I’m serious.

Take today’s gospel reading for example. Lazarus is safely in the tomb, nothing more can hurt him, he’s not doing harm to anyone. Yes, Mary and Martha are grieving, they are hurting, and we’ve been there. Recently. The accusation is fresh on our lips, “Lord, if you had been here…” We’ve lost loved ones and we want them back, just like Martha and Mary wanted Lazarus back. And Jesus brings Lazarus back. He gives Lazarus new life. And our reading for today ends: many who had seen believed. And that seems like a pretty lovely… fairy-tale … sort of ending. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

There are two important consequences of Lazarus’s resurrection that our text today doesn’t include. The first is that the resurrection of Lazarus is the last straw for those seeking to destroy Jesus; it’s the action that causes them to get serious about getting rid of him.

The second is that the authorities want to destroy Lazarus, too. Having someone living a resurrected life is just too dangerous.

Neither one of those consequences seem hopeful or life-giving, which leads me back to my original statement:

Avoid resurrection, if you can help it.

Avoid letting God affect you so deeply that you become a threat to the status quo. Avoid letting faith guide your financial, political, and social decision-making because you will face persecution. Avoid letting Jesus create new life in you because your new life might be offensive to someone else.

And most importantly, avoid seeing yourself and others through the lens of God’s love and mercy, because you might make friends with the wrong people.

Resurrection is risky. There are plenty of examples of people whose vision of God’s kingdom changed their lives so dramatically that they became a threat to the status quo. I was particularly reminded this weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s threatening vision of a society based on justice and equality. Friday was the anniversary of his assassination. And there are many throughout history whose radical kingdom visions have made them targets. And there are many more whose experience and expression of the love of God have made them outcasts in their communities or even in their families. Just this morning there was the story about conscientious objectors in S. Korea facing prison time. Prophets of old, like Ezekial, were almost never welcomed. The man born blind was cast out of the temple after his radical encounter with Jesus. Assassination is not the only way of attempting to silence a resurrection life, a radical kingdom vision.

I have to admit, I often have a hard time understanding why God’s kingdom is such a risky vision.

But that’s probably because I operate with God’s love for me and God’s kingdom vision in the abstract, in the ether of ideas, rather than in the concrete reality of relationships and lifestyle decisions.

God’s kingdom vision of justice, equality, and mercy, is great, until it threatens my way of life. It’s great until I have to embrace Pastor Fred Phelps, the late pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, as a child of God, or until I have to act on the fact that my neighbors live not only down the street, but also under the overpass, or until I realize that my own complicity in structures of injustice means that it is also my responsibility to seek solutions.

God’s kingdom is easy to embrace, until it gets real and walks among us.

When God’s kingdom walks among us, everything our culture encourages us to value about ourselves and one another – how we look, how smart we are, how much money we make, where we went to school, what neighborhood we live in, what sort of car we drive, who our friends are – is called into question. We recognize that, wittingly or not, we judge ourselves and one another based on characteristics that have nothing to do with our value as people before God.

When God’s kingdom walks among us, we might find that we want to step out of the system of broken values, but the system pushes back, trying to keep us where we are. It’s a powerful force. It operates on our fears and vulnerabilities. It tells us that we will be destroyed if we don’t get back in line. It calls us evil.

Yet, we keep coming back to the source of this disruptive vision, gathering as a community of God’s people. We keep baptizing our children into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We keep praying for God’s will to be done on earth. We keep longing for resurrection, for the new life of God to transform us and our world. We keep risking that God’s vision will overtake us.

Perhaps we know something deeper than the risk of resurrection.

Having seen that what our culture offers us only leaves us empty, we see that God’s vision of love and justice and mercy is the only way we can ever be free and whole.  There is good news: there is an unshakable foundation on which to build our lives and our communities and it is God. We do not have to exist at the mercy of finite reality. We do not have to exist at the mercy of other people’s opinions. We do not have to exist at the mercy of  our economic status or whatever else we find ourselves defined by. Instead, together, we can live in the abundance of God’s kingdom.

The only identity that will make us truly free is the identity we are given in baptism, the identity we are reminded of when we witness the resurrection of Lazarus and remember that we live because it is the breath of God that animates us. We gather each week to be reminded of this identity, not for our own comfort, but so that we might go out from this place to proclaim to the world the good, but hard, news that God’s love and mercy are wider than the oceans and deeper than the seas.

Let us remind one another of God’s love and mercy. Let us seek to live into God’s kingdom vision together. Let us bring resurrection to one another and to the world. Amen.

A Lenten Journey: Day 24

We went dancing this evening, something we do fairly regularly. We dance to swing and blues music. This is a partnered dance, so your movement and your partners movement influence each other. Hopefully, the music influences the dance, too 🙂 One of the most profound and important parts of the dance is the connection with your partner. When you’re new to the dance, you think a lot about your own steps, your own movements, eventually about your own interpretation of the music. As you and the partners you dance with get better, you can begin to pay attention to one another. The best dances I’ve had are not always with the best leads, but with the people who are most present to me and to the music.

To me, it’s that kind of full-bodied attention that I’m practicing when I pray. Even though I’m sitting still, and the space is basically quiet, I’m trying to be open to feeling, to paying attention to God’s work in me and in the world, not just in some “spiritual” way, but fully in my mind, heart, soul, and body. I’m pretty sure practicing this kind of attention in prayer also helps me offer this kind of attention to other people – either in the context of dance or just of conversation. I know that when I am offered this kind of attention, it’s sacramental – it connects me to God and helps me imagine what the kingdom of God would look and feel like, and yes, I definitely think there is dancing in God’s kingdom! I hope that practicing this kind of attention in prayer helps me offer this kind of attention to others. I’m pretty sure we’re all craving the experience of being seen and loved fully for who we are and we can offer a taste of that by truly paying attention to the people around us – friends, strangers, partners, spouses, children, parents, etc.

A Lenten Journey: Day 23

Today was the most “Spring Break” like day I’ve had. I only had to work for 2 hours and the rest of the time was basically mine to determine. Sure, there are upcoming papers that could have been worked on, but I didn’t bother. Instead, I went through and recycled a bunch of print-outs from last quarter, did dishes, and began to work on my taxes, all while listening to NPR.

I don’t like stopping my regular activities in this way. It’s not because I don’t like resting, I really do. The trouble is, that a little hint of getting away from this ridiculously jam-packed schedule in which I don’t really ever have a day off makes me recognize just how ridiculous it is and then makes me feel like I don’t want to take it all up again. Since not taking it all up again just isn’t a choice – pressure to pay the bills, finish the degree, and maintain some semblance of a social life are all too strong – I begin to feel tired and overwhelmed. I’ll be okay tomorrow when it all starts again around 5:30am because getting up and making it happen is just what I do.

This part of my life, though, is definitely feeling like the part of the trail when you’re exhausted, but determined to make a particular camp and you just keep your head down and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m sure I’m missing some pretty beautiful scenery and some pretty important moments, and I hope that this prayer practice is helping me to keep my head up and my attention available longer.

 

Reflection at Wednesday Evening Prayer Service, March 26, 2014

A little background: on Wednesday morning, we had learned that a member of our church had died and that the cause of death was most likely that he had taken his own life. He left behind a wife and two kids.

The reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, the anointing of David.

Grace, peace, and mercy to you all from God, our Creator and Christ, God’s beloved Son, our Lord.

In this story, God has decided that the first King of Israel needs to be replaced. A sort of coup, except that God’s the one doing the deposing. In any case, God sends Samuel out to find and anoint this new king. He sends him to Bethlehem. Bethlehem might sound kind of familiar to some of us. It is the place the gospels tell us Jesus was born. So the king that is to save Israel and the Messiah that saves us come from the same small town. There must be something in the water there.

So, Samuel goes off and finds Jesse, who has many sons and Jesse presents each of his sons to Samuel, but none of the ones present are the ones chosen by God. “Nope, not that one. Next.” “Nope, not him either. Next.” and so on. Finally there isn’t anyone else left. Samuel is a bit confused and asks Jesse, isn’t there anyone else. And of course, there is. There’s the youngest boy, who is out tending the sheep. He wasn’t even invited to the sacrificial feast. Of course, this youngest, most unexpected child is the one God is waiting for. God is going to choose a red-faced little boy to be the king of Israel. This probably shouldn’t surprise us. This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time that God chooses someone we would never expect. This is an important message, that God chooses the unexpected and the apparently unworthy. It’s worth remembering, either because we often feel unworthy of being chosen or we judge others to be unworthy.

But today, that’s not the part of the story that strikes me. It’s what happens next. Samuel anoints David. He pours oil on his head marking him as the chosen one of God.

And this reminds me of baptism. With the water, we are brought into God’s covenant of love and mercy. Then, the way we do it here, the one who has been baptized is brought to the front, the minister, dipping his or her thumb in oil, marks the sign of the cross on the forehead and says, “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” No longer is it only the leader who is marked as God’s forever, but everyone who comes to be baptized.

Here, you can be anointed during healing prayers. Sometimes Pastor will offer anointing after communion. Even just a few weeks ago, when we received ashes on our foreheads, the ashes were mixed with oil, reminding us that, even in death, we are marked as God’s forever.

This is what I needed reminding of today especially, in life and in death, we are marked as the chosen and beloved children of God, forever and without exception. Amen.

A Lenten Journey: Day 22

I think the pastor put it well when he said, “You never wake up expecting something like this to happen.” No, death always takes us by surprise, even when it is “expected” but especially when it is not. We want to explain. We want to find reasons. We want to get out of the painful broken-heart space.

This is a normal reaction. But, the people who have just lost someone, they can’t get out of that broken-heart place. I remember many years ago, with the deaths of each of my grandparents, feeling hurt and confused that the world kept going as though nothing had changed even though everything had changed for me and my family. With my grandparents, we expected their deaths – from long-time illnesses and old age. I cannot even begin to image the world-turned-upside-down-ness of unexpected deaths.

There is a tradition in Judaism called sitting Shiva. My understanding of this tradition is that, during the week following the funeral, friends and family gather together and sit. There is little conversation, there may be prayer, there may be stories of the deceased. In this time, the community seeks to recognize the loss by caring for the family of the bereaved, by stopping their own regular lives as an acknowledgement of the loss and of the world-change produced by it. Sometimes just sitting, just listening, just being make a new kind of space where loss of life can be acknowledged and where, eventually, new life can begin to grow. May we have the compassion to help hold this space.