It was delightful to have my friend Deanna Thompson at ECLC yesterday, leading a forum on "Talking about Tough Times." It was especially moving for me as a pastor to look around the packed room and realize how the saints in this place have endured many tough times together, and to pray that this conversation might be part of how they do so into the future.
Though Deanna's experience is of metastatic cancer, she acknowledged many of the ways similar conversations need to be had about other tough times: grief, divorce, disability, other chronic illnesses. In her blog she has made some of these connections as well, including reviews of books about Alzheimer's, or considering the blessings and burdens of having a caringbridge website.
I also appreciated her acknowledgment of gifts that come in the midst of things we would not ever choose:
While I’d happily accept a different vocation, being invited to occupy that space of sadness, grief, and uncertainty with others is often a profound experience. To sit with another human being and reflect on what we’ve lost, on how life is different since badness came on the scene, on the grace that emerges even in the midst of the awful—can bring consolation and insight. More than a burden, it’s a privilege to be able to occupy that sacred space with others. Not long ago I thought I didn’t have enough time left in life to have a vocation at all. Given the alternative, I’m grateful to have a new vocation and to be doing well enough to try and live it out.