Within the lift of coloured lights—a parcel of sadness. Under the ornaments, the tinsel, the tree—a box of loss. At the gathering of family and friends, holes: a lost relationship, news of an illness, persistent pain, an untraceable fear, the death of someone close.
These holes gape—twice as wide and hollow by the arrival of Christmas. They’re hard, sometimes impossible to bear. And we break. We grieve. And then, somehow, we endure.
We endure because we mourn. And we endure because we mourn with those that mourn. For we all have holes. We gather at the openings. We let the wind whistle through our holes, abandoning any attempt to plug them with pious resolve, mend them with religious platitudes.
We light candles at the location of our losses. We come with our load of grief, rage, tears. We come to speak of them, draw them, write them, paint them, sculpt them, make of them, blue songs—then, maybe, just maybe, in time, they change, loosen, float, drift. Replaced with a ripple, a wave, even a tide of comfort.
Among the stories and carols,
“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,”
are also the right words for Christmas. For they reach into the shadows of Yuletide.
Blessed are they that mourn—we need no authorization or justification. Such space, such allowance to throw off the social dictate that says, stand up and get on with it—is freedom to breathe.
For they shall be comforted—not in some world to come. But some time when we’re together. Perhaps later, perhaps soon. Maybe not forever, maybe just for now, this moment—in the middle of sharing some memory, there’s a smile, there’s laughter.
Realists may spurn this permission to mourn. But here, in these words, mourning—that western cultural embarrassment—is elevated to a way. Not a way around, but a way to stand and walk.
So mourn. Mourn the missing, the loss, the hurt, mourn our inability to go back and say all the things we wanted to say, all that unfinished business that will stay unfinished.
For somehow, if only in being honest, we are blessed by mourning. Blessed by the deep artful movements of human hearts. Blessed by our heart’s own hidden wisdom. Blessed beyond our weak cognition to the seat of the soul—with its complex mix of heartache and joy—like a winter river, with light flowing beneath the ice.