To Mourn and Embrace Pain in the Present Moment

When words fail, and our hearts are not still, what can we do? When tragedy strikes, there are questions that must be answered, and mourning that we must endure.

At times like these, I turn to prayer, and to the psalms, seeking comfort. Further still, I look to poems, like those of a Jesuit priest named Gerard Manly Hopkins.

Some poems are meant to be sung, and thankfully, Natalie Merchant sings this one for us beautifully. Follow along with me,

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Spring and Fall: To a young child (1880)

Fall Foliage in Connecticut – Bettina Hansen | Hartford Courant

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

‘Tis true, isn’t it? We mourn for the dead, because in their dying we contemplate our own deaths too. Sudden death has a way of reminding us of the counsel that we oft forget in the course of living our lives.

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

My friend Blaise Pascal reminds us of the value of living in the present moment. Because,

If we examine our thoughts, we shall find them always occupied with the past or the future. We scarcely think of the present, and if we do so, it is only that we may borrow light from it to direct the future. The present is never our end; the past and the present are our means, the future alone is our end. Thus we never live, but hope to live, and while we always lay ourselves out to be happy, it is inevitable that we can never be so.

The present is all we really have, after all. And in this present moment, the events that have unfolded in Newtown yesterday remind us to be the light for others, even in the midst of pain.

For now, though, we hurt.  And now we should embrace the pain in the blessing we have been given by following the call to mourn.

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Lord Jesus, lift us up in our afflictions and show us the way. Amen.

  • Terry Fenwick

    Thank you for this healing . . .


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