A Time to Mourn

These are hard days. I’m not alone in this. I know that my experience is pale and muted compared to so many of my black, hispanic and Asian friends right now. I don’t get many of these days of numbness or discouragement, the sense of precariousness. I listen to conversations, take the questions I’m hearing and try to connect people to a larger frame. Age (advanced), experience, reading and many, many mistakes helps you see how to fit the pieces of the puzzle into a larger picture. But answers, as sensible as they might sound, are not were we are right in this moment. Like you, I have been in lots of Zoom conversations with leaders. So many of them are in this place of numbness, feeling vulnerable in a world that seems headed over some edge. Explanations and frameworks feel tone deaf in this moment.

This experience, which David Brooks has called “precarity”, has not come to me for a long time. It’s as if the video camera has zoomed in close up, close, close up and is stuck there. It won’t zoom out to a “bigger picture” so I can gain control with explanations and answers. I remember when this happened before. A decade ago my daughter, in her early thirties, was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. My world closed in, the camera lens closed in tight; it wouldn’t pan out to a wider perspective. I was so profoundly vulnerable. This wasn’t something I could manage or fix. I’ve been experiencing this again over these past days as I listen to people struggle to express their disorientation, confusion and precarity.

This is a time for mourning. It has a sadness with no good words to make sense of things. Even good words are out of place. In this time of lament it is inappropriate to seek quick fixes for these experiences of distress, disorientation and grief. Something has come upon us that defies big picture explanations or platitudes. We are, for a time, without words that will capture our vulnerability and disorientation. We are in the time of mourning. We have lost so much! I know this time will pass and there will come a time to dance. There will be tomorrow and a day after that … this is God’s world and we are part of God’s future. A time to mourn…a time to dance.

4 Replies to “A Time to Mourn

  1. Hello Alan, you came to mind this morning so I thought I would do a search and see what you are up to these days. I appreciated reading this latest posting and as usual found your insights of benefit to me. You likely don’t remember me but I was one of your students at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, NS, taking your course on the Missional Church. I so appreciated our time together and came away impacted and challenged in many areas. Keep writing, keep observing and keep sharing.

    1. Bruce – sorry to be late in connecting. Thanks for your encouragement. I trust all is well with your work. Al

  2. Thank you for this timely reminder. We do not have to pretend it’s ‘okay’, put on a brave face and pretend; we can embrace our inability to explain all things away with ‘wise’ words or biblical platitudes, be authentic and real.

  3. Thanks Alan. I’m also a colonial – Australian, and found your Fuller talks on Podcast. I’m also 76 so it’s a new world – this technology. My life has been as a social psychologist for 10 years then as a local church pastor these past 45 years. My Fuller DMin included Peter Wagner’s Church Growth followed by the much needed Archibald Hart on the minister’s personal life.
    I agree that we are in Captivity. The world has invaded the Church in Australia, and we hardly notice.
    It is a time to mourn, and to pray the Psalms, and to listen and learn.

Comments are closed.