My heart is heavy.

It’s the news. It’s the trial in our home town for the death of George Floyd. It’s Daunte Wright. It’s Atlanta. Kenosha. Indianapolis. It’s gathering stories under the shadow of a Confederate statue. It’s visiting lynching sites.

But it’s more than that.

It’s how quickly each event is spun and re-spun, then spun again. It’s how animosity instantly takes root in the space compassion should claim. It’s how tragedies are weaponized and turned on the victims. It’s comments in news feeds that start out toxic and go downhill from there.

Given the weight of the days, it might be tempting to just seek escape. But while escape feels good for a moment, the problems still remain. I am reminded of the mourning process. The importance of going through each step in its time. Sitting with the grief. Honestly reckoning with the struggle and creating space for lament.

One hard day I was quick to tears and a little self-conscious. The kind soul I was with simply said, “We call that watering the garden.”

We protect ourselves from discomfort and in the process, we deny ourselves the opportunity to process our grief and the understanding of how to forge that grief into new strength.

A friend explained his experience of loss and the symbolic effort of running toward the setting sun to try to hold on to what was left of the fading light. It’s a losing battle. You’ll never do it. No matter how fast you run toward the setting sun, it will slip away below the horizon and you will be left in the darkness after all.

The quickest way to get back to the light is to give up on chasing it. Turn away from the sun. Walk straight into the darkness and just keep moving. The earth will keep turning. And the light will come again.

So today, we headed to Montgomery. I knew it would be a heavy day. We visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum. We walked through the sacred ground of the Peace and Justice Memorial, otherwise known as the Lynching Memorial. We stood beside the stop where Rosa Parks climbed aboard a bus and refused to move to the back. We drove the historic route from Selma to Montgomery that marchers traveled to demand voting rights. We crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge where marchers were met with brutal force to turn them back. We stopped at Brown Chapel.

It’s hard history. It’s tragic history. It’s true history. And we need to fully face it if we are going to fully understand who we are today.

My heart is heavy, and so it should be. There is much to mourn in this season. But it’s also springtime. So grieve if you must, but remember to also plant your seeds. When the grief overwhelms you and leads to tears, know that you are watering your garden. And in time, something new and beautiful is going to grow.

8 thoughts on “Grief

  1. Thank you, John. Your words describe our shared reality right now so eloquently. We can hold each other’s hearts as comfort and support during these hard times. Your work truly makes a difference. Sending you love. ❤️

  2. Thankyou John, and Bless you…
    I will remember that tears are watering the garden… and that something beautiful grows…
    You and your wife are brave souls…
    Thankyou both for putting your energies into shedding light…
    I’ve been following your project via your email posts since learning of it early in 2019…
    I was in conversation with Peter Mayer when planning for him to bring a concert to our town of Park Rapids in connection with a community art project called “Peace by Piece”… Pete and I were talking about song choices … he mentioned “It’s Not Far” that he had written for your project..
    I knew the song but didn’t know of it’s inspiration … I looked up your project then, and have been following it since…
    Thankyou again ..
    Take good care..
    And yes, we trust that new and beautiful is coming, is growing…

    ~Jody Ziemann
    Park Rapids

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. What a great story Jody…thanks for sharing! I love Peter Mayer’s music and was so grateful for that piece he wrote. Glad to hear he is still playing it.

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