Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 27, 2007

I got an email from a good friend yesterday. He was sad he could not be here to sit with us. Anyone else might think that odd, but to me that meant so much. It hit a spot deep in my heart. I desired to just sit…with him…with Melissa…with Christ.

Life has been hectic since we found out this weekend that we suffered a miscarriage. Balancing grief, pain, school, listening, and talking has proven tough at times. My focus has not been on this program or on my future work as a development practitioner, but as a husband, and as a father. I have grieved the loss of a child, of expectations I didn’t know I had, and have had to refocus on things like balance sheets, budgets, and bankruptcy. After I read that email, and spoke to that friend on the phone, I simply desired to sit, to be, to rest.

There’s a video I watched recently by a pastor in Michigan named Rob Bell that touched on this point beautifully. In the video he reflects on the loss of a friend and the painful process of mourning. He spoke of how oftentimes people don’t know how they are “supposed” to feel. In times of grief often the things people try and say, things which would normally comfort us, don’t. And we are stuck.

That’s when he brought up the Jewish concept of sitting shiva. Shiva is a Jewish custom when someone is mourning wherein the family members go to that person and sit with him/her, just sit. I think it is a profound representation of what Christ is already doing with those in pain. It is a reminder that the present Christ is with us, grieving our loss, and bringing about restoration. Shiva is a beautiful way to practice community, to bear each other’s burdens through a gift as simple as our presence.

This idea of sitting shiva reminds me of when my sister had a stillborn baby. After the family found out we all flew to Colorado to be with her and her husband. The most powerful time for me, of the whole weekend, was when she and I sat in her living room, and said nothing. It was so inconsequential that she probably doesn’t even remember, but to me those moments of time spent with others, of peace and space and silence, were some of the most healing times during the process of grief.

So as I read that friend’s email and remembered Rob talking about grief, I realized that I wanted people here with Melissa and I, sitting shiva.

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