The world is knee deep in tears or maybe it is hip deep or even higher. Sometimes I have to find ways ritualize the grief I hold because of all the suffering in the world. These are not necessarily people I know but they live in someone's heart and that's what matters. So this morning, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, remembering the beautiful earth-labyrinth on our monastery grounds, I thought perhaps it was just waiting for a pilgrim . I decided to be that pilgrim. I went early when the sun was just thinking about rising and a small bit of the glow could be seen. I begin slowly walking the path carrying the suffering world down the trail. I thought of Jesus with his cross. I thought of so many people, animals and all of nature with their crosses also. At ever curve of the labyrinth I stopped and named places and people. Every step was a prayer and sometimes I called out names as I took another step. Of course I missed some whose names needed to be spoken. You can speak their names in a ritual of your own.
- Japan: earthquake, typhoon, death, terror, hopelessness
- Christchurch, New Zealand: more death and destruction,
- Fires: Texas, California, Oklahoma (perhaps more) the firefighters—death and courage,
- the cattle that died because fences couldn't be moved fast enough, the devastation of nature,
- The lingering effects of Katrina. We who are far from it sometimes think it is over but the effects are still alive. For some it may never be over! Moving down the path I kept offering them to God
- 9/11! What more need I say? Suffering washes over me like waves of the sea: the terror, the unspeakable loss, intense sorrow, anger, the courage and bravery and love of so many. I stand for a long time in silence. I try to hear the cries. Truly the world is knee-deep, hip-deep, shoulder-deep in tears.
- I pause on the path: There is just too much pain to name. People uprooted from their homes because of floods.
- The Joplin, Missouri tornado, a war zone of suffering.
- [Please name your own great losses that I missed]
I arrived at the Center of the Labyrinth with all this pain, with all these beautiful people, with their courage and their life (which I wasn’t fortunate enough to know) Symbolically I lifted them to God, I raised them to the heavens, to the center, to the four directions and then I carefully placed all these events, these people these sufferings onto the earth. I knelt there for quite some time. Tears came and they were healing.
On my journey out of the center, back down the pathway, I heard the Holy One, the Source of all life, telling me to take joy with me on my return. I went back to my ministry with a joyful heart, It is not helpful to take back the pain and sorrow. It is not helpful to add my despair to an already hurting community of people. And so I breathed in their courage, hope, love and strength. I breathed in their beautiful lives. I walked down the return path with a lighter heart, somewhat healed. I asked for the grace of living aware. I would like to live in such a way that I am always mindful of the sufferings of the world just as I am also aware of the joy and peace that can mingle with the suffering. I want to live AWARE..