Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, November 01, 2012

THE PATH FROM GRIEF THROUGH FEAR, ANGER TO AN EMPTY TOMB

























No sleep so far tonight (Wednesday). I think the prednisone I am taking is winning and I am quite alert.

So, I thought I would share a quote from C.S. Lewis that probably reflected a part of his time of grief over the loss of his wife, Joy.

He wrote a book called "A Grief Observed" in which his understanding of human feelings was challenged by his experience of loss. He even published the book under a different name because it seemed to show a weakness in his Christian vocation.

I have lost those whom I "love, but see no more" and I have been with those in my ministry who have suffered the death of a loved one. And so this quote really hits home with me.

I have known the fear of which Lewis speaks and I have seen it in others. Life and a weekly willingness to gather with others for the sharing of a little piece of bread and a sip of wine have moved me to desire and receive the gift of memory and God's completing love.

At 3:00 am, these are my reflections based upon Lewis' observation and my personal and corporate experiences.

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
C. S. Lewis

Which is why anger is part of grieving. Fear is the anticipation of loss and is a way to slow the process of experiencing the loss of a loved one. Fear calls upon anger to defend against a loss that has already taken place, but which has not been acknowledged.

It is written that "perfect (complete) love casts out fear." (American King James Version says it this way in I John 4:18:"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.")

There comes a time in grief when this complete love from God may enter the human heart and cast out the fear and anger that does not allow us to love the loved one completely or anyone else.

Fear & anger are like a sort of "forgetting" pill that does not change the reality of our loss, but prevents us from remembering such loss in a way that honors the loved ones or allows for what the church calls the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin and the resurrection of the dead."

The Greek word for truth means "not forgetting." As Jesus met with his disciples on the night before he died, he took bread, gave thanks, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples with these words: "this is my body which is given for you. Whenever you eat this bread do so to remember me." Remembering can also be translated "make me present to you."

Grief is mind numbing. Fear and anger can keep our love frozen and incomplete. Tears signal loss amidst the tide of fear and anger and invite us to complete love through remembering the person we have loved and lost with thanksgiving and tears which give way to God's joy of having loved and been loved in life.

As the burial office of the church reminds us, "whether we live or whether we die we are The Lord's possession."

Complete love casts out fear when we surrender our belief that loss is more powerful than the love of God. Fear and anger are signposts along the way that leads to an empty tomb out of which streams light and more light.

"Welcome happy morning age to age shall say..."

Lyrics to Welcome Happy Morning

"Welcome, happy morning!" age to age shall say: "Hell today is vanquished, Heav'n is won today!" Lo! the dead is living, God forevermore! Him, their true Creator, all His works adore!
Refrain

"Welcome, happy morning!" Age to age shall say.
Earth her joy confesses, clothing her for spring, All fresh gifts returned with her returning King: Bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough, Speak His sorrow ended, hail His triumph now.
Refrain

Months in due succession, days of lengthening light, Hours and passing moments praise Thee in their flight. Brightness of the morning, sky and fields and sea, Vanquisher of darkness, bring their praise to Thee.
Refrain

Maker and Redeemer, life and health of all, Thou from heaven beholding human nature's fall, Of the Father's Godhead true and only Son, Mankind to deliver, manhood didst put on.
Refrain

Thou, of life the Author, death didst undergo, Tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show; Come, then True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy Word; 'Tis Thine own third morning; rise, O buried Lord!
Refrain

Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan's chain; All that now is fallen raise to life again; Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see; Bring again our daylight: day returns with Thee!
Refrain