Walking with Sorrow

Walking with Sorrow

“To live without the mountains and the valleys
Would be to live within a nothingness
that surely cannot be called life.

The loves, the sorrows, the hunger and the thirst,
the satisfactions and the longings,
These things are all connected.

What more can we do than to share this journey?
Seeking understanding as we travel our rising and falling paths.

Walk with me and I will walk with you.”
(Diane Rollert, For the Sacred)

Walk with me and I will walk with you.

This is our annual service of mourning, of walking with sorrow.
As the dark nights deepen, as the leaves fall away from the branches, we begin to calculate the losses of the year.

This has been a year of sadness and anxiety for many, both within these walls and beyond.
Some have lost dearly beloved family and friends, and sorrow is a constant companion.
For some – the challenge of life threatening illness has meant sorrow has come to live in their homes, sitting quietly in a corner.
Big transitions in life, such as jobs endings and relationships changing bring many of us into regular late night visits with sorrow.

For others, sorrow arrives fresh each morning, waiting on the doorstep to be let in, bringing news of more deaths in terrible tragedies by gun violence, by wars, by natural disaster.

We are all, to some degree or another, walking with sorrow.
But we also walk together.

Walk with me and I will walk with you.

This is why we are here today, to honour the sorrow which is companion to all of us, to know that there is no household untouched by grief.
No household which can offer a mustard seed.

We gather to remind ourselves that we walk together.
That in facing death and loss we are not left alone, we are part of this caring community.

As Unitarian Universalists, we accept the death is a part of life, but know as well that we need time and space to mourn our losses.
Healing arises from acknowledging our suffering, not denying it. Acknowledging our pain does not mean dwelling in it, stuck in a past that cannot be changed despite all the wishing in the world.

Acknowledging sorrow – even loving sorrow – is to see our losses clearly, to know the value of what we have lost. If our love has been great, our grief is equally so. We should not have to pretend otherwise.

So we learn to live with sorrow, accepting it as our companion until the pain recedes.
This isn’t easy, it’s awful.  Pain is a terrible thing and we, like all living creatures, instinctively try to avoid it.

If a candle flame is burning your finger, you snatch your finger away. But the emotional pain of grief isn’t a burning candle we can avoid.
If we do distance ourselves and bury the pain, the flame might go out for a time, but it will re-ignite at awkward moments, or at the wrong person, or for no reason at all, burning bright.

Better to accept the pain of loss as a natural part of living on this beautiful, terrible planet.

And in accepting the pain of loss, if we are gentle with our grief, and care for ourselves tenderly, the candle will melt, the flame flickering down as the fuel burns away.

Love sorrow and be gentle.
Remember behind the pain is honest grief.
And if you are struggling with sorrow, know you are not the only one.

Walk with me and I will walk with you.
We will walk together.

It is when we live honestly with sorrow, accepting that we will be sad and miserable and that is okay, it is right, it is normal to be sad when faced with death, it is then that we heal more fully and – over time – live more deeply.

You have to walk through the valley to reach the next mountain.

“To live without the mountains and the valleys
Would be to live within a nothingness
that surely cannot be called life.

The loves, the sorrows, the hunger and the thirst,
the satisfactions and the longings,
These things are all connected.

What more can we do than to share this journey?
Seeking understanding as we travel our rising and falling paths.

Walk with me and I will walk with you.”  (ibid)

We will walk together.

So Say We All.

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