If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my misery. – Psalm 119:92 (NRSV)
This Christmas was the first since I became a mother that I did not see any of my three children in person. As for many this year, we made last-minute changes to plans because of Omicron, and for some in the family, travel was already impossible. We made alternate plans to be together online, knowing that – while we would all prefer to be in the same location – our preferences couldn’t change reality.
For a day after the final conversations took place, I moved under a weighted blanket of sadness. I didn’t have the will to employ my usual approaches to disappointment: reframing, keeping busy, focusing on others. I gave myself the day to mope.
When my wife and I sat down the next morning for our devotional time, we read words of scripture and reflection, but we hesitated to engage our consistent spiritual practice of naming “What’s good” and “What’s bad,” followed by prayer. We built our practice from a familiar benediction that includes the phrase, “Hold on to what is good.” The previous week’s “good” anticipation was today’s “bad,” and that felt terrible.
Yet we met in the place where we always meet, to do what we always do, making space for the feelings of the day, the good and the bad. We let them just be; we didn’t try to solve them. We gave them to God, and we let God hold them with us.
The next day, I ventured this response: “What’s good is that we all love each other, and we are all well.”
I still felt sad, but I felt held.
Holy God, hold on to us. Be with us in our sadness, we pray. Amen.