In Judaism and, by extension, Christianity, there’s a practice that is meant to express a sorrow whose depths can’t quite be captured by a term like despair; grief for which there will never be words. It’s called “Lament(ation)”. Christians may be familiar with it through the book in the bible that shares its name. Lamentation is a way for us to express that indescribable grief so that we can take a step towards (some form of) healing. Lamentation is how we let out what we’re feeling.
This is my lamentation. It might read like poetry but it is not. It might also feel like a prayer; this is close but not quite. I, like many of you, have been feeling the heaviness this COVID season has brought. This is my expression of that pain. I wanted to encapsulate the collective loss we are experiencing as a country. Words fail, but I can at least try.
I hope that this is a lament we can read together as a community while we navigate how to grieve well.
Please take care of yourselves.
A Community Lament
There is something in the air, dense and tactile.
We see the elephant in the room, it makes itself known through destructive means
A thief in the night; Death has come, violently stripping away anything it can.
Who hasn’t been touched by the loss of a loved one?
Which corner of our community hasn’t lost people and things intangible?
We have lost so much in a year.
Incomes, security, safety in being together
and many other things that we can name.
We have experienced grief and loss in our lives, but nothing like this.
We’ve never had to bury loved ones through a screen and console our friends through text.
It’s never been like this.
We do not know a world where we cannot sit with a friend who grieves her sister.
Of being afraid that mornings will bring news of fresh deaths.
How do we exist in a world where “I’m sorry for your loss too” is a regular thing to say to a friend?
How are we supposed to comfort one another when we are all grieving?
Today and its losses have called, their demand to be dealt with unaddressed.
I guess we will meet them when we crumble.
Grief is a residue of loss of any magnitude.
Grief is like a mirror that has a crack, holding on for as long as possible while the moment of its shatter looms.
I am afraid of what our shattering will look like.
I am afraid.
I am in constant fear of when death will come knocking on my door.
I am afraid of how much it will take this time, since it’s already taken so much.
Our community is harboring grief.
Each one of us carries our own share.
The young and old now have common ground.
There are no words that fit the depth of the sorrow we all carry.
We just know it’s there.
Where do we even begin to lament?
How can we begin to pray for that which we have no words for?
When will we breathe?