For worship time today, I wanted to recommend that rather than doing a service, as such, that we all take some time to do what is called a walking meditation.
We have done them before, if you remember the walk of gratitude. The idea is, to walk outside, or simply walk the distance of your hallway, or if unable to do that, touch thumb to fingertip as if that were taking a step.
And so, with each step, or touch of thumb to fingertip, keep repeating prayerfully one of the following:
⁃ “I wish no suffering and only compassion and comfort to those who are grieving today.”
⁃ “I pray everyone who needs you today, oh God, feels your love and comfort.”
⁃ Or with each step, or touch of thumb to fingertip, simply keep repeating the words love, strength, healing, embrace. One word with each step or touch.
Or if there are other words or phrases that feel right, do those instead. This is a spiritual exercise, meant to be kept very simple. If you have a moment to read the sermon I am including for today, the walking meditation is meant to be part of how we spiritually surround those who need us, and stay present.
Last week, the sermon was about seeing what drove the disciples on, after the shock and trauma of Jesus being killed so horribly. And how, over time, it was their grief and loss that became the passion to keep giving the kind of love they believed in. That was how they honoured Jesus. Just like we honour the people we have loved.
One could not possibly have imagined that last weekend, so many people in the communities stretching from Portapique to Enfield would be going through trauma, violence, loss and grieving in the worst way possible, and so far beyond anything any of us could ever have imagined.
Jesus’ crucifixion, and the evil violence of last weekend, are the same on so many levels. Unanswerable questions. Why?
How could anyone do that? What drives the one, or the many, to acts so violent and destructive that what is lost so devastating? Such that the lives of those who survive and those who must hold such grief pain, can never be the same?
And for the rest of us who are not of those families and communities, but whose minds also reel, whose hearts are also broken, there is another immediate question. How can we help? How can we hold them in their pain and grieving? Made all the more difficult by the inability to do the traditional things we do, to give love and support.
The last time I remember our communities feeling so much heartbreak, was while sharing the duties of chaplains for the RCMP, in the wake of the Swiss Air crash. I don’t want to share what was seen during recovery efforts. They are seared into many minds, forever. Even after many years of healing and recovery.
What was equally imprinted on my mind and heart, was that no matter how much horror, or how much grieving, there was never, ever a time when there weren’t literally thousands of people just from here, holding up anyone who needed care, love, and company in their pain.
For the vast majority, it was from a distance. Prayers, vigils, candles lit at night. The mental, emotional and spiritual holding never stopped. For others, it happened face to face. Knowing the person in front of you was in more pain than any human being should ever have to feel. Knowing you were powerless to change that. But knowing you could put your arms around that person. You could stay there. You could give whatever a moment, a person, reached out for.
I am relating those memories for a reason. What many came to understand, is that while none of us has the power to take away the pain, loss, the horror … we do have the ability to surround and hold those in pain, loss and trauma. We can stay, in every way we can find.
I see that happening now. From a distance, as well as face to face. It is the same as it was after Jesus was crucified. Those so overwhelmed, in such depth of pain. Those who immediately surround them. Family, friends, neighbours, first responders, RCMP, counsellors, critical incident and medical support, everyone in a position to be face to face. To wrap arms around. To stay.
And we see what is happening from a distance. Hundreds of thousands of people, engaging on every level each individual can think of or do. Candles lit in the night. Bagpipers on balconies Friday morning. St Andrew’s and many other church bells ringing Friday evening. Niagara Falls blue and white floodlights. A heart shaped flight path over Portapique. Vigils. Prayers. People ranging emotionally from sheer anger, to compassion felt in every fibre of our being. From those who simply stay attentive to the news and let it sit in their hearts, to those who put symbols and pictures of solidarity on Facebook, or stand with online social gatherings that hold the names of those whose lives were taken.
I hope every one of us feels connected, whether we are the ones who are face to face, or the ones who go out on random nights to light a candle … I hope you feel connected. Because whatever you can do, to connect, is how we surround, how we stay.
There is no limit to the capacity of the human heart. Jesus knew it. So did those who grieved for him. And as that grief was shared, and held … it did not go away. It became part of everyone. And so together we are able to face our own hearts, and the hearts of those most broken … and stay.
From today’s epistle reading, Peter said “love one another, deeply, from the heart.”
In that love, let us stay.