grace in grief

Heather and I spent the last few days in the retreat cabin here, a sabbath time at the close of the farm season. The first evening, though, we got into an argument and couldn't get past it. Strangely enough, the one place we could find common ground was in the pain we both felt. We were both deeply grieved that this difference stood between us. I realized that we both felt this grief because we loved each other, and even though we couldn't immediately resolve our difference, this powerful (though painful) reminder of that love was enough to bring us back together.

We enjoyed the rest our time together in the cabin. Took a walk down to the creek and got caught in the rain, warmed ourselves in front of a fire in the wood stove, chanted psalms together as we watched the sun set, accompanied by coyotes and a lone owl.

In the quiet time, I thought about that grief. Pain caused by love, because someone we love is parted from us. It seems like the pain that God must feel for us, when we separate ourselves from him, when we turn ourselves away from the good he offers us. It's not a suffering imposed on God, who really is not diminished without us, but a pain endured because of his free choice to love us. Such grief is good and not bad, not a barrier to love but an effect of love.

And I thought that perhaps it is at the moment when we grieve also, when we realize our separation from God and feel the pain of it, that is when we can find ourselves one with God in that grief. That is when our our heart, our desire, is the same as God's. We need not have already corrected all our faults or righted our wrongs, just come to an honest grief at our separation—and there we find God.

I think that is perhaps the experience of forgiveness. Meeting God where we least expect him, and where we don't deserve to find him. Grace in grief. And it is there, in that reconnection with God, that we find the love and energy and inspiration to begin to change our path and change ourselves.