Jesus told the disciples: “In God’s house, there are many rooms.”
Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:
- This mystical passage from the Gospel Writer Called John invites us to consider that God’s house is the entire Universe and that our lives include a series of passages, such as birth and death.
- As a great, first-century wayshower, mystic, and master teacher, Jesus knew that earthly life is impermanent, and that loss and death are inevitable. Yet, his words are meant to bring comfort, teaching his followers that life is everlasting, so he’ll always maintain a loving, soul connection with them.
- Many mystics believe that life and death are part of the same soul journey, though in different dimensions of experience.Minister and Poet James Dillet Freeman describes death as putting on “invisibility.”
- University of Memphis Professor and Clinical Psychologist Robert Neimeyer describes grief as “a room we may enter or leave again and again, for years.”
- Modern psychology overall teaches that the grief we experience when someone dies isn’t an ailment or something from which we must be cured. Rather, it’s a cyclical process which helps us find comfort in growth. For example, feeling angry is a normal part of the grief process, but staying angry doesn’t maintain our connection with our loved one; it’s a choice we make to block our own comfort, healing, and love. Likewise, ignoring our feelings or avoiding self-care can actually prolong our anguish.
- Demonstration is the evidence you can see of what is or isn’t working in your life. You demonstrate your healthy grief process and your willingness to move forward by practicing the tasks of grief, which include:
- acknowledging that the death is real;
- working through the emotional rollercoaster of separation;
- allowing yourself to adjust to a new “normal”;
- re-experiencing a loving relationship with the one who died; and
- re-imagining and re-creating your own life.
- Especially during the holidays, it can be difficult to feel a loving, soul connection with family and friends who have died. Yet, we can find comfort in sharing memories and observing rituals which celebrate our shared connection.
- Love is an element of Advent, the contemplative season which prepares us for Christmas. But even if Advent isn’t part of your spiritual practice, you can still contemplate how you would like to express your feelings of grief and love.
As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:
- Who are the loved ones I’m missing?
- List, word map, or illustrate whoever they are.
- What characteristics do I love most about them?
- For each person, list, word map, or illustrate all you love.
- When I contemplate all these characteristics, what are at least three (3) ways I can express and share them with others?
- List, word map, or illustrate as many ways as you can imagine.
- When my grief feels heavy and painful, what are at least three (3) ways I imagine my loved ones would encourage me to re-create my life?
- List, word map, or illustrate as much as you can imagine.
- What are at least three (3) ways I can hold onto memories, possessions, and rituals in ways which feel comforting, rather than painful?
- List, word map, or illustrate everything which feels loving and comforting for you now.
Sometimes it’s said that grief is the price we pay for loving. However, that can make our relationships into commodities and diminish our ability to acknowledge loss and feel our true feelings. We may think of grief as something to endure, rather than something which can help us deepen our ability to love.
So, as you use this devotional, remember that everyone grieves differently. You aren’t on anyone else’s timetable. Trust your own gentle pacing and the innate goodness and grace of life surrounding you, even when you feel overwhelmed by sadness. Know that even though your loved ones have put on invisibility, they are still with you, as if in another room of God’s house.
© 2022 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.
Photo by DariaGa from Shutterstock.