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.
Our scripture for today is Luke chapter 5, verses 27 through 32.
After healing the paralyzed man, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Tables give us places to gather. All kinds of miracles happen around a table. Somebody gains enough trust in somebody else to speak truth to them, and the truth gushes out of mouths and into the world. Or what could be miracles of relationship don’t happen.
Levi is so inspired by living in the shadow of Jesus’ love that he throws a big dinner party for outcasts. Seven courses and white tablecloths and finger bowls… for repeat offenders. For junkies and prostitutes and people whose shelter is a cardboard box. The centerpieces and the food smell good, the people not so much. At that banquet, everyone feasts on healing.
When my mother died, my older brothers and I met at the funeral home, where the director led us to a round table to discuss Mom’s funeral. It was tense. Old roots had bloomed into anger and resentment among us, particularly since our mother had developed Alzheimer’s and our father had died. When my husband reached out to shake my brothers’ hands, only one of them took it. No healing that day. That brother and his family refused to speak to me or my family throughout the funeral events. I’m still sad for my mother when I think about it.
Especially when I’m in the car by myself, I often talk to my beloved dead. And when I talk with my mom about her shame and sorrow at her place at that table, I also sense her release from it. And sensing her release frees me some from the storm of complex emotions I hold around my brothers.
Grief is a thin place.