Lament for Blue Christmas

red_sky_at_morning_151023The “lament” is one of the oldest of human art forms.
These poems of sorrow,
usually including a request for divine intervention,
go back several thousands of years.
From Beowulf to the Illiad,
from the Hebrew Bible to the Hindu Vedas,
we find our human ancestors
crying out in suffering,
asking for relief,
and promising to live better lives
if only their dire circumstances might be changed.

If you are wondering about
the difference between lamentation and whining,
well, “lamentation” sounds better,
and more importantly,
it indicates a fundamental willingness
to change or be changed.
This morning, as we lament the violence and suffering in our world,
may we also pledge
to open ourselves to change
so that we *do* embody the compassion and courage
that we wish for our planet.

My heart is aggrieved
by the thought of so many people
whose sorrows are made
all-the-more painful
by contrast with the glad tidings around them:

My eyes fill with tears
for those who will have a difficult holiday this year
because it is the first one
without a deceased loved one;
I cry with *all* those
whose memory pictures somebody at the table
who will never again eat or drink;

My heart aches
with those whose loved ones
are far away;
in the military,
at school or work,
in jail,
or apart for whatever reason;

I weep for those
whose holiday will be spent
in a hospital room,
or in the cheerless waiting room down the hall;

I am grateful to—
and still a little sad for—
the nurses and police officers
and all the others
who work through the holidays;

My heart breaks
for those whose vacations
will be spent in a funeral home;
in particular,
imagining the gifts which will never be opened
in the houses around Newtown, Connecticut,
I am driven to my knees
by their unimaginable sorrow;

I grieve
for those who are mentally ill,
especially for those who want help
but cannot find or afford it;
I am sickened by the thought
that many lives
will be made even more difficult
because of the unfortunate and false belief
that mentally ill persons
are potential mass murderers;

My heart goes out
to those who are unemployed,
or under-employed—
those with the hollow desperation
of not being able
to give the presents they wanted to give;

My stomach knots
with anxiety, frustration, and sorrow,
for all those heading toward
awkward family gatherings
and unpleasant reunions;
my sorrow is sharpened by anger
for any who must again share a room
with the family members
who betrayed or abused them;

and I am aware
that some are so lonely
that they would even welcome contact
with those who once mistreated them;
I grieve for the lonely,
and the lost,
those who have outlived their family
and their friends;
those who were once abandoned
and who still feel
the echo of it, in their soul;

for all these,
and for so many more
of my fellow human cousins,
who will experience
as much sadness as elation
during this season of celebration,
my heart breaks open,
my throat cries out,
and my eyes,
stung by tears,
look steadily into theirs
with compassion and solidarity.

So may we be.

 

(originally preached at the First Unitarian Church of Hobart, 121219)

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