Skip to main content

Meeting for Grieving

Meeting for worship was quite an experience for me today.

Of course, Judy Harrow's death was on my mind. I felt a poignancy to giving two Quaker elders their ride to meeting today--I was so conscious that what I cannot do for one elder, I am comforted to be able to do for another, so that even carpooling felt like an act of remembrance.

Then, as I sat down, and just as I felt myself give way to sadness, one friend left her usual place and walked across the room to sit beside me, took my hand, and gave me a hug. I was reminded that I was not alone in my sadness, but with yet another of my spiritual tribes. It felt as though my grief brought Judy into the room with me, that it made a link, not a division in my worlds.

And John and Mary Ellen were there. I had hoped they would be. John and Mary Ellen were caretakers at Woolman Hill back in the days when NELCOG used to meet there, and the fond memories go both ways; they remember their Pagans with love, just as they--and Woolman Hill--are remembered by them.  And I thought of how Judy had known and cared for them, and I thought about how they, like me, remember Judy. So that was another way I was not alone.

And then message after message spoke to grief. So many members of our meeting have been carrying losses. It was one of those times when not only are the messages threaded, but they seem as though they have been prompted by Spirit just for my benefit. I'm sure that's not true--at least, that it is not true only for me--but the messages spoke to right to my heart, again and again.

I sat in that meeting room, and I thought about all the communities, in all the long millenia of human time--of long-vanished communities, waiting for spring through endless gray winters, huddled around fires in long houses made of stone, or mud brick, roofed with straw or wood or mammoth bones.  It felt like that, to be with my people--one of my peoples.  It felt very old, this gathering together against cold and dark and sadness, watching generations come and go.  I thought of my life as just another in the long, long chain of lives going back as far as time... it it felt good to me, to think this way. 

When I got a little teary-eyed, Sara was right there.

And at rise of meeting, the children and Young Friends came in, and Abby sat down next to me on the floor, and leaned her head against me for a hug. So I guess she got the memo, too: friends of all ages, were circled there to hold me, to hold one another, in the Light.

And when it was time to give my name, I rose, and I spoke of Judy, my friend, the Wiccan teacher, who had just died.

I named her gifts to me, and her connections to our meeting--and I saw Mary Ellen smiling at the memories of visits years ago.  I thanked my meeting for holding me in love as I sat with my grief over the loss of a friend.

I am reminded: our hearts and our circles are always larger than we know.


{{{{{All of you}}}}}
Ah, Michael.


Popular posts from this blog


(Note: there were so many thought provoking comments in response to this post that it generated a second-round of ideas. You can read the follow-up post here .) I have a confession to make. I want to be famous. Well, sort of. I don't want to be famous, famous, and ride around in a limousine and have to hire security and that sort of thing. I just want to write a book, have it published by somebody other than my mother, and bought and read by somebody other than my mother, and maybe even sign a couple of autographs along the way. Mom can have one autographed, too, if she wants. It has to be a spiritual book. A really moving and truthful book, that makes people want to look deep inside themselves, and then they come up to me and say something like, "It was all because of that book you wrote! It changed my life!" And I would say, no, no, really, you did all that, you and God/the gods --I'm a little fuzzy on whether the life-changing book is for Pagans or for Quake

Peter on Grief and Communities

Well, that was unexpected. For the last year, ever since my mom's health took a sharp downturn, I've been my dad's ride to Florence Congregational Church on Sundays. That community has been important for my dad and the weekly outing with me was something he always looked forward to and enjoyed, so I didn't mind taking him there. It meant giving up attending my own Quaker meeting for the duration, but I had already been questioning whether silent waiting worship was working for me. I was ready for a sabbatical. A month ago, my dad was Section-Twelved into a geriatric psych hospital when his dementia started to make him emotionally volatile. I had been visiting him every day at his assisted living facility which was right on my way home from work, but the hospital was almost an hour away. I didn't see him at all for three weeks, and when I did visit him there, it actually took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He was slumped forward in a wheel chair, lo

There is a Spirit Which I Feel

I was always a "rational use of force" gal. For most of my life I believed that the use of force--by which I meant human beings taking up arms and going off to war to try to kill one another--was a regrettable necessity. Sometimes I liked to imagine that Paganism held an alternative to that, particularly back in the day when I believed in that mythical past era of the peaceful, goddess-worshipping matriarchal societies . (I really liked that version of history, and was sorry when I stopped believing in it as factual.) But that way of seeing reality changed for me, in the time between one footfall and the next, on a sunny fall morning: September 11, 2001. I was already running late for work that day when the phone rang; my friend Abby was calling, to give me the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. So? I thought to myself, picturing a small private aircraft. Abby tried to convey some of what she was hearing--terrorists, fire--but the mag