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Barbs of disease, desertion, divorce, and death have always ripped the fabric of our humanness like a moth-eaten horse blanket tossed into an ash pit: solitary, smelly, and useless. Bereft of initiative and energy, we wallow in grief’s madness.

Stories from our long-ago shadowy past abound with versions of this madness, including its critical separation from our Source. Whichever story we draw from, our psyches sting and clamor for deliverance. The uproar, now global, continues.

Despite protective measures, Zoom, and other approaches for keeping together, disease and death still stalk us: their numbers featured in news outlets, together with wrangling over shortages of the vaccine. Desertion and divorce also fuel the statistics. Were it not for prayer, the critical thread to our Source, grief would totally engorge us in despair and more loss of life.

Jesus reminds us, Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted: the paradox of grief stitched into Baptismal garments of Kingdom living. It continues teaching me to let go of the fabric of my life as I’ve experienced it, over eighty-five years. At some future time, my terminal illness will cut its thread and I’ll be home. A hospice patient, I’m not eligible for the vaccine.

I’ve heard the thread is silver.

Only within honesty’s stark silence can grief be heard: No matter whether mild or severe, it still disables. Psyche bleeds.

So I tell myself while sitting in the comfort of my study, a grey-spitting rain slicking the windows and moistening shrubs. Again, I descend into silence and seek to dredge up words from this stinking morass putrefying my spirit and keeping it in bondage. I am not alone—the experience is global. Commentators enunciate the niceties of escalating fractures deepening the rifts, but offer no response to move beyond their deadly sway.

Yet, words have been eluding me like oil drops rimming dishwater in a sink. Alone, I’m powerless. More prayer is critical for this process—within pain patiently endured comes new understanding and compassion for others.

In the long ago past, others have suffered such brokenness; among them, artists found outlets for their grief in literature, music, dance, sculpture, painting, and other art forms. The lessons are still there: Sophocles, the Hebrew prophets, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, J. S. Bach, Picasso’s Guernica, Solzhenitsyn, Martha Graham, and thousands of others.

The glitch continues, for which there are no quick fixes. It is still raining.

The next day, the human experience riding on the heels of tragedy, affords critical downtime before the onslaught of cleansing grief and its restoration to a different kind of wholeness. Such had been the pattern in our country until last spring’s onset of Covid-19 with its continuing scourge and moans from the populace. Pestilence, the Fourth Horseman in the book of Revelation, still gallops his pale steed among us and shows no signs of fatigue.

And to compound matters, January 7, 2021, is yet another next day following Wednesday’s breaching of the Capitol and its desecration, but there’s little evidence of downtime. Steeped in angst, it feels like the warp and woof of our identity as a nation has been ripped asunder. Beneath the egregious tear festers additional sores of greed, pride, and anger; of them all, half-truths appear the most misleading and divisive. At the bottom of the nation’s wound lays the great switch that keeps many unconscious, on fast-forward, with little quiet for reflection and significant action to benefit others.

More feverishness, rather than accustomed downtime, infects this next day with its imperatives to do this, to do that: More anger, pride, and exhaustion induce skewed reasoning. We need help. On our own, we are powerless.

Would that Dolly Parton’s mother could again make a coat of many colors to cover our nation’s nakedness, adroit as she was in piecing together disparate patches to make a whole. Then, perhaps God will do this if we let Him. Sounds absurd, but it’s not …

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