Marking Us All As One
It was a gathering of the broken, the bereaved, the sorrowful, coming together for a simple holiday service organized by the local hospice where I worked. We lit candles, rang a bell, said prayers, and called out the names of the dead. A few words of comfort were shared, silence, a little piano music, and the giving of small gifts, tree ornaments, doves, the symbol of peace, made of rigid green wire and covered in a thin layer of gold glitter.
I had not thought too much about the consequences of giving out things coated in glitter. It had not occurred to me that the decoration was flimsy and would spread from fingers to hair to cheeks and fronts of blouses. But spread it did. So, that after the service, after the sharing of butter cookies and cups of hot cider, the reunion of beloved hospice staff and the bereaved family members, all of us sparkled with gold glitter. All of us were altered and yet also the same, marked by our grief, marked by our brokenness, marked with tiny lines of glistening gold glitter.
Seeing everyone shining that way touched me. We are all broken, after all. We all face loss; we all grieve. We all deal with disappointment and sadness, often forgetting that as we walk we do so among the wounded. We are all stumbling forward the best we can; and it is, I believe, because of our brokenness that we recognize the sorrow and grief of others. It is in our own frail attempts to move beyond the sadness that we are able to see so many others struggling beside us. And somehow, the sharing of this commonality brings us a measure of peace, of hope, a silver lining in the dark and overwhelming bank of clouds that cover us. Or as it was at this hospice memorial service on this recent mild December day in a little town in western New Mexico, tiny lines of gold glitter marking us all as one.
You are the light of the world!
PS. Many churches and organizations will be having a Blue Christmas Service or a Longest Night Service this month. If you’d like to go to one but don’t know where to go, contact me and I’ll find one you can attend. Be kind to yourself. The holidays can be difficult for many.