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 from Psalm 51, verses one through ten.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
And so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.
Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother's womb.
For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.
Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.
Make me hear of joy and gladness,
that the body you have broken may rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.
If I had written this psalm, I don’t think it would have been a plea to God. I think it would be a plea to the dead whom I love to forgive me. A child in Oshkosh overalls reminds me of my son, Teddy, and suddenly I am finding ways in which my inadequate mothering during his toilet training led to his struggles that led to his death. A whiff of Pond’s cold cream and I wish I had visited my mom more often.
The overalls in particular, cause a spiral into the vast coulda-woulda-shoulda abyss that is one of the most painful stops on the labyrinth that is grief. At best, when I ask forgiveness of someone I love but see no longer, it is uncomfortable. Usually, it is wrenching. But it’s also sort of healing cleansing. When I ask for forgiveness, sooner or later, it morphs into telling my beloved how they hurt me, and my forgiving them.
I need to feel what I need to feel. I need to voice what I need to voice. Asking and giving forgiveness is as much a part of my grief as finding feathers that remind me of my son’s love for me.
Grief is a thin place.