I had lunch with a dear friend today, and as we chatted, one of the topics that came up was the return to new normalcy after an intense time of grief, which both of us have experienced in the past few months.
To be a joyful person enshrouded by grief is difficult. The cloak of grief placed unwillingly on a happy heart is a difficult and unwelcome experience. The laughter that once was freely flowing seems to offend the garment, to betray that which was lost, to deny the devastation of the heart.
Yet, the garment of grief doesn’t fit right – binding in some areas, saggy in others, always dragging the ground. The burlaped texture of gristly grief chafes my already thin skin. The overwhelming weight is wearisome.
There have been times that I have thought that I was becoming accustomed the shroud, only to realize that its presence was clearly felt on my shoulders again. Getting a new bill in the mail for the adoption that never existed. Being asked by a friend unacquainted with our situation, “How are the twins?” Finding tiny baby items that I tucked away for the future — a future that will never come.
But I do not have a choice of apparel. The cloak must be worn dutifully, and eventually, worn submissively.
Over time, I have found that the misshapen shroud of grief has transformed. I’ve tucked it in on one side, tied it on the other to better fit my soul. The once-abrasive fibers have softened. My skin has thickened as well. The heaviness is still present, but rather than being oppressive, if I consider it, it is now feels much more like warmth.
Could it be that the shroud of grief has become a cloak of God’s consolation? Could it be that the garment that I once resisted is the very means of grace by which God has chosen to demonstrate the closeness of His comfort?
Perhaps this is what Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes, when He said, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:4, The Message
It may not be that the cloak itself has been transformed nearly as much as the cloak has transformed me. Now laughter does not betray comfort. Joy does not deny the embrace of the Almighty. Smiles are an expression of love, not a betrayal of such. Though my life has been forever changed by the donning of the cloak, I’ve come to realize that it is not an instrument of hardship as much as it is a demonstration of love.