This Shadowed Fog
This afternoon, I received the devastating news that a young man connected to our congregation had taken his own life. I sat stunned, staring at my screen for what felt like an hour. Who can comprehend such things? Who can make sense out of what is ultimately senseless? I thought immediately of all those I know who loved this dear young man, all those who will be shattered by this loss, those whose grief will be immense.
Words are small things in the face of such horrors—it is a truism to even say this out loud. But even small things can bring a measure of comfort or an outlet for pain or something that might make a dent in the sorrow. These words are excerpted from “A Liturgy for Grieving Well Amidst the Confusion of a Suicide.” They are taken from Every Moment Holy, Vol 2: Death Grief and Hope:
O Lord of Life, weep with us now,
for we grieve a life interrupted
by the choice of one
who willed to live it no more.
We cannot fathom why this has transpired,
or what they sought to mend
by such a final, sudden end,
instead of reaching out, or hanging on,
or fighting through despair
till hope returned
Now we who are left are left with questions
for which we have no ready answers.
O Christ, how could it come to this?…
We are left with a tangled weave
of love and pain and shame and anger
and confusion and guilt
and defensiveness and regret;
an impossible knot we could spend
fruitless ages trying to unravel,
as if we could sift the past and find
what we were blind to, or find some thing
deserving of our anger, or even spy
some thread of light
that runs through this shadowed fog,
illuminating a deeper, mysterious, hidden
purpose in this seemingly senseless loss…
So if there is any peace to find, it must
come from somewhere other than these
fruitless revolutions of our minds.
It must come from you, O Christ.
O Most Wounded God, bear these our wounds
as well, and be at work within them.
Take the shattered shards and raw materials
of our grief, and fashion them into a mosaic
of weeping grace; a pattern worked of pain—
but also comfort in the pain…
For you, O Lord,
from the foundation of the world,
loved this one more deeply and perfectly
than we ever will. You created them
to reflect your glory, and though that visage
is marred in each of us by sin,
yet did we catch glimpses of
Your beauty there, in them…
And your grief, O Christ, at this
wilful cutting off of life, at this giving in
to pain and despair, is greater than our own—
for you alone have carried the full weight
of it, and know the shape and the cry
of the heart of the one who chose such
a barren path. And so we plead and intercede,
asking that your mercies eternally cover
their sins, and our own as well.
Remind us, O Christ,
both now and in the days to come,
that even a tragic end does not upend
the good that came before it.
This solitary act of pain was but
a single line in the story of a lifetime.
Our love and friendship were real.
And the joy and the hope and the
laughter and delight inscribed
on those earlier pages remain forever
in the larger story, as gloriously true
as they ever were…
Now into our grief, speak grace, O Father.
Into our chaos, speak comfort, O Christ.
Into our pain, speak peace, O Spirit.
For you alone, Triune God,
can sustain our souls and our hopes
amidst these crashing swells and
reverberations of pain and confusion.
Shield and cradle us now and forever
in your undying love, O Lord,
our rock and our redeemer.
All our hope is in you.