Episode 2 - Feb 15th

Grief is a thin place. A place so thin, it’s hard to tell where earth ends and heaven begins.

Grief is a place so thin that it’s where the living and the dead feel one another’s love.

I’m the Rev. Lisa Hamilton, and I grieve. First, I’ll read a scripture appointed for today. Then I’ll struggle with those words through the lens of grief. I’m glad you’ve joined me.

Today’s reading is Psalm One.

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper.

It is not so with the wicked;
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

         My son Ted was a heroin user, probably for two years. A series of horrible incidents led him to seek treatment, and with all kinds of help, including suboxone, he managed to stay away from it. And died two years later.

         Heroin and other opiates cause nerve pain that lingers in some people longer than in others. It’s common among those in recovery to take large doses of Imodium because it can help soothe the nerve pain. But if you take too much Imodium, it slows your heart and kills you. Too much Imodium, not too much heroin, killed my son Ted.

         So I struggle with Psalm One. Like all parents, I wanted my child to be one of whom the psalmist wrote:

Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper.

And as I think about it, Ted would have wanted that to be said about him too. Nobody wants to be an addict when they grow up. Everybody wants everything we and our loved ones do to prosper.

         And news for the psalmist: you divide people into wicked and righteous. You claim that the wicked suffer and the righteous are happy. Come on! We’re all a mix of wicked and righteous. None of us are “like chaff which the wind blows away.” We can’t help but “linger in the way of sinners,” as you put it. We’re all sinners. We all make mistakes that separate us from God, from one another, even from ourselves. Sometimes we get the chance to grow from those mistakes. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, even in the midst of growing from our mistakes, we run out of time.

         A friend of Ted’s said to me the other day, “If he had died from a heroin overdose, I could say, ‘C’mon, Man! Everybody knows people die from heroin overdoses.’ But Ted died of an Imodium overdose. Everybody takes Imodium sometimes. Imodium saves people in the third world! So I don’t know what to say.” There was silence on the other end of the line. And then Ted’s friend choked out, “But in the end, I wouldn’t miss him any more -- or any less.”

 

Grief is a thin place.