The third in a weekly, six-part Lenten series exploring themes of human frailty and suffering through music, story, and art. This week’s post features art by Brooke West and Mark Meynell’s reading of “A Liturgy for the Anniversary of a Loss,” from Doug McKelvey’s Every Moment Holy, Vol. II.
An Image: Heart by Brooke West
Brooke reflects on the moment that led to this piece:
Looking at this piece still makes me physically ache, and it’s about six years old. I created it one morning, on the heels of some sweet journaling and prayer time, while my kids were still sleeping and the house was quiet (those beautiful, stolen moments are so few and far between!). My oldest child had just started kindergarten, and the realization that a piece of my heart was skipping around outside my body (and outside of my control) took my breath away that morning. This piece has become a nonverbal lament and a concession of my powerlessness in the face of a big, scary, unknown world. —Brooke West
A Liturgy for the Anniversary of a Loss
I have felt its approach in the back of my mind, O Lord, like a burden tilting toward me across the calendar. I have felt its long approach, and now it has arrived.
This is the day that marks the anniversary of a loss, and waking to it, I must drink again from the stream of a sorrow that cannot be fully remedied in this life.
O Christ, redeem this day.
I do not ask that these lingerings of grief be erased, but that the fingers of your grace would work this memory as a baker kneads a dough, till the leaven of rising hope transforms it from within, into a form holding now in that same sorrow the surety of your presence, so that when I look again at that loss, I see you in the deepest gloom of it, weeping with me, even as I hear you whispering that this is not the end, but only the still grey of the dawn before the world begins.
And if that is so, then let that which broke me upon this day in a past year, now be seen as the beginning of my remaking into a Christ-follower more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more conscious of my frailty and of my daily dependence upon you; as one more invested in the hope of the resurrection of the body and the return of the King, than ever I had been before.
Let this loss-hollowed day arrive in years to come as the kindling of a fire in my bones, spurring me to seek in this short life that which is eternal. Let the past wound, and the memory of it, push me to be present with you in ways that I was not before.
Do not waste my greatest sorrows, O God, but use them to teach me to live in your presence—fully alive to pain and joy and sorrow and hope— in the places where my shattering and your shaping meet.