The Cold

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The cold slows me down. I’m not used to my bones aching, and it is difficult to move in the mornings. Since my shoulder surgery last summer, there have been pains in my arms that keep coming back despite the physical therapy regimen I’ve done for 18 months. Yes, when you step outside, the wind hits your face and reminds us that you are alive; the temperature tells our bodies to tell us we are mortal, and we reach for the hot chocolate, soup recipes, and warm blankets as we turn up the Christmas music. We’ll do just about anything to stay warm.

As it becomes cold outside, we physically slow down, and all we can do is layer up. You can wear gloves, a hat, a scarf, and a heavy coat. All those items will keep you warm on the outside. However, don’t let yourself and your spirit grow cold on the inside. There is a spark of divinity within each of us, and I always worry in the winter that we’ll let that holy fire, the spark of creation that rests in our souls, grow cold. 

We can’t allow cold weather, illness, distance, travel, and holiday obligations to turn us into cold, unfeeling people. It’s easy to fall into the holiday rat race; we put on our blinders, block out the world, and focus on the superficialities of warmth. We too easily neglect our inner spiritual fire. Just as I sit down with a hot bowl of soup to keep my body functioning, I need to do the same with my soul. A cold soul leads to a cold heart. If I have a cold heart, my feet may be warm and my stomach full, but my soul also needs to be fed. If I go spiritually hungry, the grief and fear will gnaw away at my spirit until the sun never rises again.

–Richard Bryant

Grief Part 3

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Don’t sit on it.

Don’t hold it in.

Don’t put it back in the box.

Don’t return it to sender.

Open the box.

Talk about it.

Look in the mirror.

Stare it down.

Find a word, name it, claim it.

Say something, to anyone.

Allow yourself to have the last word, even if it’s for today.

You can speak to the grief tomorrow, it will wait.

At least you’ve started the conversation.

–Richard Bryant

Grief Part 2

What was it like to receive tragic news by telegram? Over the past six days, I’ve been told that someone died over the phone (a 19th century means of communication), updated on my father’s possible chemotheraphy treatment options via email, and heard similar concerns from my parishioners through electonrically circulated lists. What would it have been like to receive one of those tiny pieces of paper from Western Union? What was the emotional impact of a telegram?

Perhaps I’m wrong; grief doesn’t appear as a neat and tidy gift. It doesn’t arrive in a box, waiting for the right time and place to open. Sometimes, grief is a folded piece of paper. Grief lands in your life like an awkward glance you were never meant to see but can’t unsee. Grief is two-dimensional, flat, and waits for a three-dimensional existence. It need not be a response to death. Grief arrives with spiritual indifference. Grief cares not about what God we worship or the creed we confess. Like the self it inhabits, it wants to be acknowledged as real, valued, and worthy of love.

–Richard Bryant

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