April 16, 2020

Well, this photo about sums up my life lately. And it probably sums up yours, as well. What a chaotic, frightening, sad, lonely, overwhelming, dark time. What a mess. There it is. I’ve named it, and you can probably add some feelings to that list. And even if none of these feelings resonate with you, that might make you feel guilty.

These are strange times. Unsettling times. More than ever we need to ground and center ourselves. Over the past four weeks, Central Ceremonies has led a series of Services of Lament. Laments do not fix things.  Laments may not even make people feel better — initially. Instead, laments serve to create community. Because in lament we cry out, and join our voices with others in grief and anguish. In that shared grief, we find each other. And the truth is, that only in finding each other do we find our way through this pandemic. Yes, together – even when we have to be distanced. Strange, indeed.

This mix of emotions, and mix of being together even as we are apart reminded me of some words from renowned theologian Henri Nouwen:

 The author of Ecclesiastes writes, ‘There is a time for mourning and a time for dancing.’ But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their ‘times’ do not necessarily follow each other; and in fact, their ‘times’ may become one ‘time.’ Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other begins. Our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief . . . Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness — they belong together . . . Let us trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.

Every evening since sheltering-in-place began, my spouse and I have walked our dog. Now, our dog thinks this is all about her. She loves her evening walks, and indeed dances and prances her way through the neighborhood. But what Joe and I know is that this time is more for us. And not just for the two of us and our relationship, but for connecting us to our community. Over the course of these weeks, we’ve created a pattern and a rhythm. We know who our neighbors are, waving to them and making small talk. It’s a way of saying – even across six feet of space – “I see you, and you see me.” I have marveled over this goodness in our evenings. I have wondered over how this weaving of dancing and mourning has created a connectional network in our neighborhood. I treasure our evening “dance,” and how it exists the midst of global pandemic. And I am grateful for it.

I ask you; no, I implore you: in the midst of your mess – whatever your mess looks like – how will you dance? Now . . . go dance.