Magical May: Grief and Hope

Happy “Magical May”! This is my ongoing annual moniker for this month of historically sparkling, sultry days. In May it seems our world on the bay begins its annual blossoming into full blown summer. As I write this, I see these days as symbolic of the hope I reach for in what is now the end of March and the middle of a season of grief for our family. For Christmas, we were gifted by our daughter and son-in-law with the announcement that their second child was on the way, joyously imagining the baby’s arrival in July. In February, we awaited results of the blood test which would be passed along at a “gender reveal” gathering with the family. We discovered that we are awaiting the birth of a sweet baby girl, but not in the way we had anticipated. As the journey has unfolded, further testing has revealed that our grand baby girl has a genetic anomaly known as Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome. The effects of this syndrome are categorized, based upon the extent to which cells are affected in her body. A rudimentary description describes a continuum involving a few cells, to clusters of cells, to all cells. Hence, the ensuing months of anticipatory grief we have shared as a family. We don’t know how long she will live in utero. We don’t know how long we will be able to know her and hold her and love on her if she is born sometime between now and full term, when we step over the threshold into the real time journey of grief. There is no easy outcome. No turning back. There are questions. There are moments of joy. There are moments when we recognize the heavy brick in our hearts that underlies our daily walk.  There is wanting to be a comforting presence, able to honor silence… at war with the desire to swoop in and fix it. There is the wish that I could take on the pain in their stead. And, throughout all of this, I must say…there is also a deep awareness of God’s presence. Of being carried. Please be aware: I am expressing so much more than a Pollyanna-faced, spiritual bypass. I am offering this hope, neither to dismiss nor stuff the intense emotion of this season. Every step in this journey must be acknowledged and truly felt. As one who has walked though many seasons of uncertainty, grief, trauma, loss and darkness, I can look at “Magical May” and know that the message of the Easter season we celebrated in April, a couple of short weeks ago, is true. Whether or not you believe that Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection won for humanity full access to God’s presence and forgiveness, I ask you to consider that His suffering through physical torture and the intense pain of feeling separated from the care of His Father, offers us the willingness of God to enter into our suffering alongside and within us. Whenever we suffer, He suffers. We are seen, known, loved and held, whether or not we can feel it in the moment. Do questions remain? Of course. Is suffering a mystery? Yes. There is more to share, but for now, know that if you are in pain, God feels it. My prayers are with you. As always, this message comes with an invitation. This month, it is to explore the reality of God’s love, whatever your circumstances. God can receive your anger, grief and pain. Your homework… step outside, into Magical May, with the intention to see God’s love somewhere. In creation, in your neighbor, in your heart.