Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me. —Psalm 51:11
In the US, we have endured enormous loss with almost no public acknowledgment of national grief. More than a million people have died from COVID, and millions more have experienced the death of loved ones, including the rising number of children who are COVID orphans. This communal loss has hampered our abilities to cope with everyday stressors and increased our sense of alienation from each other. Declaring the pandemic over, as President Biden did recently, does not put an end date on the cumulative stress and grief we have experienced since 2020.
What would it mean for us to acknowledge such unfathomable loss with a public ritual of mourning? Not the hair-tearing and teeth-gnashing of biblical lament nor the righteous rage of protest, but a well-ordered performance of communal grief?
Research shows what happens when we don’t perform an end to our grief: we experience despair, hopelessness, and burnout. But when we participate in a ritual of mourning, we begin to close the loop. Our bodies signal to our brains that we’ve reached an ending. Moving with the queue through a quiet hall lit with candles, we make a path forward, together. Then maybe we can step out of our grief, instead of staying stuck in it. —From the Editors of “The Christian Century”, We need ritual for our collective grief, September 28, 2022
May we walk a quiet hall lit with candles, forging a path forward more together than divided, more centered, less stuck, open to one another. Amen. —The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster