Some Pastoral Reflections on Grief

1) Grief is an intensely personal experience. No matter how much we try to make it a communal experience; grief remains a personal journey. There are moments where we will travel with others. Yet, we will still be alone. Respect the person and the journey.  If someone asks for privacy, respect their wishes.   Love and grace aren’t pushy.  They are ready.

2) Grief is not bounded by the concepts of linear space and time with which we measure our lives. Grief knows no day or night, hour or minute, or physical boundaries.

3) Unchecked, grief may live forever. Yet those who grieve may learn to create limits around their grief. No one else can do this for them.

4) Sadness, depression, and loneliness are not grief. These may be symptoms of grief. Grief, especially after the death of someone you love, is an emptiness that is too hard to define in clinical terms.

5) Love is not the antidote to grief. Instead, love is a way to respond to those who are grieving.  The church accompanies the grieving on their journey in love.  Love should be offered with kindness and respect. Grief does not need an antidote.  At the right time, grace needs to be ready.  Whether in the form of meals, hugs, notes, or a ministry of presence; be there when needed.  Re-read number 1 if needed.

Richard Lowell Bryant

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Richard’s Ideas for Making It Through The Day

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1. You are better at life than you believe yourself to be. Not the pretend stuff of life, I mean the real, gut level day to day things that make you who you are. Believe better, be better.

2. Take the negative tape, (the “I Suck” playlist) off shuffle and delete it from your phone, device, and from  in between your ears.

3. Whatever “it” is, don’t give up on “it”.

4. Today is just today. Do today. Tomorrow will be its own challenge.

5. Show up and be present: for yourself, because of someone else.

6. Make room for others on your journey. We’re not meant to live or die alone.

7. Set a personal best in smiling or listening.

8. Does your worldview make your happy or miserable? How quickly can you change it?

9. If you truly believe “Life is Good” do more than buy a shirt, enact tangible goodness.

10. Gratitude underlies everything.

Download a PDF of the Ideas Below

Ideas for Making It Through the Day

Food for Thought-5 Good Ideas for August 10th, 2015 Gleaned from Classic Rock Songs

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1. Any way you want it, that’s not necessarily the way you need it.

2. You are not dust in the wind. You are much more. Don’t stop believing that you are more than dust in the wind.

3. Don’t stop believing, start doing something beyond believing.

4. Life is more than a feeling, but those feelings must lead beyond dreams of past failures named Marianne (or anyone/anything).

5. If you have things you need to address, take care of business.

Food for Thought-What Are We Doing with Our Now?

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How did you end up here?  Where are you now ?  Each one of us can point to a series of decisions and people that led us to the exact moment we currently inhabit.  I would like to pose these two related questions; ‘how did you end up here ?’ and ‘where are you now?’  What brought you to this place and this instant in time?   For a moment, consider the people, forces, and events which conspired to place you where you inhabit history.  By this I mean your parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, mentors, religious leaders, and anonymous practitioners of kindness who are responsible for you sitting, standing, talking, breathing, and being where you are right now.  Who are those people?  Do they still walk this Earth?  Whether living or dead, their presence and purpose is alive within the present you call home.

These individuals guided and led you towards the path and place you inhabit now.  From this place of being, are you able to see the distant threads, the various shades and colors, weaving themselves together to form the tapestry of your life.  As these threads create a work of art to define you and the present possibilities of this moment, what does your life look like? The gift of this moment has been handed to you from many different people and places.  What will you make of this gift?

Food for Thought-Anti-Fascist Irish Spring Flower Show For Utopian Dog Shelters #7 (A Poem)

The Anti-Fascist Irish Spring Flower Show for Utopian Dog Shelters #7 (A Poem)

There are questions that abound which you alone must ask,
Would you care to hear the epic tale of one day past?
To follow my traipse down the Great Northern Link,
Along the edge of life’s kitchen sink.

Allow yourself the sweet comfort of doubt,
Who among us knows what we’ll find out,
Whether the moon ever says a real goodnight?
Or why Derry Road is so still at first light?

On the other side of the window pane
or the lough, road, or tree lined lane,
you’ll find your personal Hallelujah,
waiting to be sung by others to you.

Sunrise on Sundays will you submit,
to the divine will or you’ll soon regret,
if you choose to forget the arbitrary rules,
take the medicated chance and be a fool.

Hobbling down a wounded path,
looking to turn toward Utopia’s grass,
You see it there beyond the right,
four minutes past Friday’s midnight.

On Saturday afternoon,
in the doctor’s waiting room,
love is the grand equalizer,
anxiety seeking a verbal tranquilizer.

Will life be okay? These days,
between the words, what do you say?
What should you do? These days,
I long for the old ways.

Go to the shelf with the Piaf albums,
they’re beside the pictures of Martin and Malcolm.
Dig out the Dietrich films from down the hall,
unplug the phone and watch them all.

Someone gave me a key and was quite kind,
to let me share in lives that weren’t mine,
with those who were willing to divide their stories,
now my life must seem perfunctory and boring.
Even in my mundane place, what I heard was true,
my own Hallelujah faintly coming through.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-An Irish Morning Prayer

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An Irish Morning Prayer

As the blue sky spreads

and the spring winds blow

over the hills of Donegal,

open within me

a fresh desire to serve

those I encounter

while I walk

among your people.

Help me,

to listen joyfully

to the sounds of creation,

to hearken to your call

upon my life,

and to become silent

when my words are meaningless.

Mend the torn, bind the broken

heal the hurting as I journey this day.

Hear my prayer.

Amen.

–Richard Bryant