We are on a list you and me. This is a list that began centuries ago and it grows day by day. At kitchen tables and in cathedrals, we have been remembered. We’re not on this list for something we’ve accomplished or for something we’ve done. Our grief is known and felt by the One who created and is still creating. We who mourn are on this list because we are held, each one of us is in God’s heart.
In northern Israel there is a small chapel at the top of a hill where it is believed that Jesus spoke the words, “Blessed are they who mourn...” Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the breeze still blows, and the clouds pass overhead. When I visited there years ago, I knelt in the pew and remembered my grandparents. I remembered their lives of faith: two Methodists, a Congregationalist and a Catholic. Living out their lives in the Midwest and the Northeast. One grandfather loved the land, the other the law. All four of them walked faithfully from birth to death. And as I knelt remembering them, I felt God's gracious blessing on them and on me. I looked up and saw the words of the beatitudes written in Latin on the ceiling. Surrounded by windows, light pouring in, Jesus’ words of blessing circled above us.
Blessed. We are called blessed. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted (Mt. 5:4). It was written. It has been whispered. It has been spoken down through the ages. At the bedside and at the graveside. It has been told to believers from the time we were very young until the days that we are very old. This promise is tucked carefully into the fabric of our faith.
Down through time, our sorrow has been held dearly, wrapped in God’s promise of comfort. We are not blessed because we are to be pitied or set off to the side. We are not blessed because we are helpless. This blessing is a living statement, a declaration that those who mourn are members of the household of God. All this time, each of us is held in God’s loving kindness.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.