There are keener griefs than God. They come quietly, and in plain daylight, leaving us with nothing, and the means to feel it.
Christian Wiman in “This Mind of Dying” from Every Riven Thing: Poems
You would have graduated this year. Your peers celebrated and we did too. We thought of you and wondered, what could have been? For me I imagined the Facebook pictures from your family and friends. You with cap and gown on, the dimples as you smiled, and the deep yet slightly mischievous look in your eyes, as you thought about what was next.
What could have been is an interesting exercise. It is both self-defeating and hopeful. It helps us grieve the realities lived while at the same time helping us recognize the reality that has not borne fruit. I’ve found over the years that art and poetry help me process these “what might have been” moments. They giving me the images and words to see in healthier ways, dream in more constructive ways, and heal in scar laden ways. Such is the reality of what might have been’s.
Last year I decided not to write. I was unsure why? I told myself that after ten years I maybe had nothing else to say. Truth be told the griefs were mounting after many years of pastoral ministry and they were close to overwhelming. I thought of you often during those days and was reminded that you were alongside God and the communion and I was hopeful that you were interceding on my behalf. You asking God to help me out, help me continue what your leaving sealed in me.
At the time I did not see it clearly. Too much grief, fear, failure, and loss. But also too many loves, connections, and rootedness. A few moments in those days reminded me of those hours when we waited and prayed. Again tears becoming beads in rosaries, supplication the mysteries, hours the repetition. God seeming so absent and yet so near. Though hopeful something deep within said that it would not turn out as we wished. And again it did not . . .
Today I find myself in a new place of ministry. A place that does not know your story just yet, maybe I should say “our story?” On my third day here I ended up having to make a hospital call. As I went down the hallway to my destination I passed by their Wall of Heroes and I though of you. Then just this past week the local LOPA (Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency) called the church and asked to meet with me so that we could meet and she could tell me all about what they do. I smiled and told her I looked forward to the conversation!
So, you found me again. Or better yet you reminded me again that you are with me always. Say hello to my Abuelo for me and to the other saints that I’ve had the honor to walk with. Intercede for me, that the “what might have been’s” become sources of hope, healing, and reminders that new life is always around the corner.