Opinion | Poetry

February blessing

Words for a time of ambiguous sadness.

Now it’s February. We can’t forget it’s the month to celebrate Black History (I highly recommend I. Wilkeson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns), and there are some who like to acknowledge St. Valentine on February 14. Yet, I must admit, I’m finding it hard to write about non-COVID-19 things. After almost one year, this pandemic has seeped into every corner of our home and life. Yes, I’m still doing temperature checks, reviewing protocol with our home nurses and sanitizing door knobs. There are times when I get wonderfully distracted in a good book or hike, but that bliss doesn’t last long. When I return to our routine, it’s like a rude awakening, “Oh, right. The pandemic.” Can you relate?

Collective grief

American professor, lecturer and author Dr. Bréne Brown recently recorded a conversation with author and grief expert David Kessler in the podcast Unlocking Us. Kessler’s comment about a collective grief many of us feel caught my attention. This collective grief includes families who could not say good-bye to loved ones who died in care, worry over the wellbeing of vulnerable loved ones, children dealing with online schooling, familial tensions over polarized feelings with politics and religion, job loss, loneliness and mental health challenges. Furthermore, there might be tensions or rifts that now exist in families and among friends over the different responses to this grief.

A blessing for you

This month, as we fumble our way through February, I’d like to share a blessing with you that has particularly moved me. It’s written by Jan Richardson, an author and artist. I believe her words ring true for many of us living with the ambiguous sadness that has taken root since March 2020. Remember how our Saviour also offered a blessing to the brokenhearted gathered on a mountainside long ago (Matt. 5). Read this and tape it to your fridge (if you’re like my parents). May you be encouraged in your day-to-day that we remain in the comforting and trusted shadow of his wings (Ps. 91).

A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

Let us agree
for now
that we will not say
the breaking
makes us stronger
or that it is better
to have this pain
than to have done
without this love.

Let us promise
we will not
tell ourselves
time will heal
the wound,
when every day
our waking
opens it anew.

Perhaps for now
it can be enough
to simply marvel
at the mystery
of how a heart
so broken
can go on beating,
as if it were made
for precisely this –

as if it knows
the only cure for love
is more of it,

as if it sees
the heart’s sole remedy
for breaking
is to love still,

as if it trusts
that its own
persistent pulse
is the rhythm
of a blessing
we cannot
begin to fathom
but will save us
nonetheless.

“Blessing for the Brokenhearted” © Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief. Used by permission. www.janrichardson.com

  • Sara Pot is a new columnist with CC. She lives in St. Catharines, Ont. with her husband, four daughters and their golden doodle; she welcomes conversation and feedback!

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