Cindy Gregorson on faith and life

A Crowd of Sorrows

It is hard to linger in suffering. This is Holy Week in the Christian church. We like to go from the parades of Palm Sunday to the resurrection celebration of Easter and skirt by the agony and suffering of the Garden of Gethsemane and the journey to the crucifixion.

In our American culture, we have the reputation of seeking to medicate away our pain. Have a problem, take a pill. We don’t like to dwell in sadness and grief. We don’t tolerate pain well.

Then this writing from Rumi:
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes from an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them in the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

I have always been a serious person…even as a child, and a little prone to melancholy. I have always seen that as something to overcome. I have longed to have a more light hearted spirit, to be a more joyful person. I have lots of reminders in my life to choose joy, to laugh…trying to counteract my basic nature. But this writing from Rumi gives me pause. Perhaps the melancholy is gift and it teaches me something as well as creates a more empathetic spirit in me.

I would never advocate suffering for the sake of suffering. And clinical depression does require medication. But sometimes, we are just plain sad, and life is bringing us pain. And perhaps the way through, is really to go through it. To feel it, to see what it is teaching us, and instead of trying to fix it, to see it as God is working in and through it….and indeed clearing us out for some new delight.

So this is Holy Week. Let’s not rush through it. Can there really be resurrection if there is not death? And does embracing death, gives us a new perspective and attitude about life?

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Comments on: "A Crowd of Sorrows" (2)

  1. In a worship resource fit, I found a poem, no author listed that I believe echoes what you have written:
    “Hold on to the Hosannas”
    Let us stay with the Hosannas for a while
    Let us let them keep on ringing in our ears
    Hosanna!
    Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

    Instead of rushing on to hear the cries that came later in the week
    Let us stay with the Hosannas
    Maybe once we have heard those in a new way we will be ready to make the rest of the journey
    A journey that was hastened and given new purpose by those Hosannas

    For those Hosannas were not simply the innocent cries of palm branch waving children
    Those Hosannas were the war cries of adults tired of the oppression of occupying forces
    Those hosannas were the hopeful cries of a nation seeking liberation.
    Those Hosannas were an investment of hope in one they thought would deliver.

    Those Hosannas that we have sanitized over the years
    rang out in clear insurrection sealing the fate of one who rode on a donkey.
    so, let us stay with the Hosannas

    Let us wrest them from the lips of children and allow them to ring in our ears
    and spew from our mouths as a call to action a call to justice
    a call to love.

    Let us stay with the Hosannas
    even as we journey with the Christ
    who carried those Hosannas all the way to the cross
    and ensured their fulfillment as the justice and love of God.
    Let us stay with the Hosannas.

    We try to move too quickly toward what makes us comfortable and joyful, and miss the rewarding journey of what it takes to be there

    Heather E. Klason

  2. Thank you Cindy for your candor. To be open and vulnerable about our suffering is not something often modeled in Christian leadership. I remember when a professor of pastoral care told me that people should not share openly about their suffering as it is unhealthy and that as pastors we need to tell our congregations we are an Easter people. I found this to be a little ironic as the One to whom we claim to be disciples of certainly modeled an openness and vulnerability to suffering. It has been my experience that I cannot be an Easter person without first going through my own journey to the cross. For me Holy week is a part of the journey of Christian faith.

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