We all hurt. We all suffer. We all experience loss and grief and shame and failure. Pain, even emotional pain, exists in our bodies, so we can name the physical location and nature of the pain. Pain, like loss, also seems to weigh on our sense of who we are and what we are feeling. So, it is true to say that grief hurts in my chest, and that grief hurts in my heart, as a metaphor for my feelings or emotions.
There is an immediacy to examining pain, and a risk to admitting it. Maybe that’s why this was the question we found most difficult to answer. We naturally avoid negative emotions, like the pain or sorrow associated with loss. We don’t like examining the pain and suffering of our lives.
It takes courage to examine our own shadow. It takes more courage to share that with someone else. When we do describe our pain or shame or fears honestly, we create the possibility of profound connection. When we can listen to someone else’s hurts attentively, non-judgmentally, and compassionately, we may see in them a reflection of the sacred, the part that connects us with God and with one another.
On the third Sunday of Advent we will look at this question more closely as another opportunity to bridge differences and to form relationships. On Thursday night, December 16th, at 7:00 PM we will offer a Blue Christmas service, a Service of Lament, that will create a safe and sacred space to hold our hurts out to God for healing. The pain won’t go away but sharing it with God and with one another helps us live more gracefully and more gratefully.