Here & Now
Here is something I did not think I’d be actively learning to do: Mourning. I mean, it’s not a skill that comes up in job interviews (outside of certain professions). It’s not something I’ve ever recalled being taught in school or over the pulpit. But I have read articles on it, shared by those in the midst of their own grief who have likely encountered people like me who often manage to add to their sorrows rather than carrying the load with them.
So often my inclination is to try to lighten the mood, to distract, to acknowledge it quickly and then move on to something lighter, something ‘fixable’ or brighter or hopeful or less sad. I know, now, the callousness in those acts, however well-intentioned I have been. Not only that, I have also failed to follow a direction given by the apostle Paul to the early church in the book of Romans:
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” – Romans 12:15 (KJV)
Some other translations say we are to mourn with those who mourn, but the basic gist of the verse is to simply ‘be’ with others in their joys and their sorrows. And not just in a ‘one and done’ sense, either. Anyone who has experienced joy or sadness will tell you – a joyful or sorrowful memory can bubble up to the surface of one’s memory any old time. It’s not always predictable, and we need to be with each other in those moments. The tenses and the syntax used in the original Greek indicate as much (I’m no Greek scholar, but I do have some sweet Bible study aides). The whole verse speaks of ‘continuous or repeated action’ for rejoicing and weeping both. There is reference to ‘contemporaneous’ action – a fancy way of saying ‘at the same time’. So rejoice when someone rejoices, weep when they weep. And the word ‘with’ in the Greek carries these implications with it in Romans 12:15 – where one is said to do or suffer something with another, implying joint or mutual action, influence, suffering.
Wow, eh? It’s like Paul is saying, “Don’t look to immediately fix it (or, possibly, to even fix it at all). Just simply be with each other.” But that can be so hard to do, no? But I think it’s good work, this hard work, this learning to be with each other in the ‘here and now’, even when – especially when – it’s heavy and hard and sad. Because isn’t that often when we need each other the most?