When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
Going out and coming in. Going and coming. Tears and laughter. There is a balance here in this movement, in this living. There is a time set aside for holding on and letting go.
We have been waiting for the coming of the Promised One in these Advent days. So what do these words bring to us?
Is it possible to believe in a life that would reflect the words of this psalm? Is it possible to hold onto that kind of faith that knows laughter and tears, one following the other and back again? Is it possible to believe that what is sown in sorrow will be harvested in joy? Is it possible?
Advent is the season of paying attention. It is the time for watching for what brings life and light. As we have been preparing and waiting in these last days, there have been times of practicing the spiritual act of leaning in. In these past weeks there have been times when the darkness seemed so great, and I found that the only thing I knew to do was pray…Prayers holding singing and prayers of only silence.
I met yesterday with a woman who is turning 93 soon. She and I sipped tea and ate cookies while she told me how her life had been in these past months since her husband’s death. “I keep learning about myself,” she said. “I keep surprising myself.
“For the first time in my life I’ve put the menorah in the window at night. I don’t know why I’ve never done it before, but I haven’t. Always before we had it over there on the counter. This year I wanted to put it in the window, and I did. I think because I miss Abe so much. It’s my first Hanukah without him in 70 years. I don’t know why, but this year it’s important that I light the candles for more than just me. I want more light to shine for everybody. We could all use a miracle now. I want the light to shine brighter than ever before. I feel like I need it this year,” she said, “and from all the pain that is in the world, I think we all need it.”
We were like those who dream…I saw it shining so brightly in her eyes as we sipped tea. And I felt both tears and laughter – hers and mine - both.
Breath prayer: “sowing” “reaping”
Holy One, you hold us all in the fullness of life. You bring us balance and when our hearts are open to experiencing it, we are all so much better for it. Teach us to embrace both our tears and laughter. Teach us to trust that you are present in it all. And remind us, Gracious God to light another candle. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).