I received some difficult news this weekend, a hard diagnosis for a beloved member of my immediate family. I got the news on my way to our parish weekend retreat, so I was a ball of emotions when I arrived. This was where I needed to be, among compassionate and loving folks.
There were times when I felt apologetic about feeling down; we people of faith can put a lot of “shoulds” on ourselves. When most everyone headed off to the campfire for s’mores and to sing old songs, I went to my room, curled up on the bed and was fully, painfully sad. It seemed dishonest to pretend otherwise. When I felt “done,” I walked downhill toward the campfire just in time to see the rising of a perfect, huge, and golden harvest moon. Its light filled some of my empty places.
Rev. Jim wrote about the learning and worship (and Bananagrams) aspects of the weekend yesterday, so this blog just adds that it also celebrated our common humanity. Collectively, some of us were mourning, depressed, anxious, teary, healing, exhausted… and yet we could be open, loving, trusting, playful, and outrageously funny.
I do believe that worshipping an incarnate Jesus has a lot to do with that. Isaiah prophetically saw Jesus as “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.” We know he wept, got really angry, felt disappointment in those closest to him, and needed to withdraw and be alone. There were also times he reached out to others when he needed strength and comfort. He was complicated, he was real.
Thank you, Jesus, for taking the risk of being fully human, helping us to be the same. You could’ve had it easier. Thank you for not being the always smiling, immaculately clothed, perfectly coiffed and manicured Jesus we often see in paintings. No matter what we are feeling, thank you for knowing just how we feel. Thank you for making it okay that we are sometimes a big mess… and that we are still loved.
And Jesus, I hope you got to see some wonderful moonrises, to be listened to, to be held. And I hope that late one evening when sleep seemed far away, you and some of your group could find a wineskin and tell stories into the night that made you laugh until you hurt. We have no scriptural reference for that, but it’s part of being fully human, and it is what I would want for my Savior.