Yesterday evening was the annual service of 'Grieving and Gratitude' at one of our Church of Scotland neighbours, and in which I have participated since I arrived in Glasgow.
At the moment, there are very few ministers in our C of S parish grouping, so last night was both special and poignant... one full time C of S, one non-stipendiary C of S, and one Baptist, in a service planned by email and with minimal contact. Built (loosely) on the Kubbler-Ross 'stages of grief' model, each of us was allocated one or two themes to work with.
Firstly, one of my colleagues shared the story of his mother's death, when he was just 15 years old, and how significant it had been in shaping his life and faith. It was powerful, moving, profound and gentle.
Next, I had been given "anger and bargaining" (thanks guys!). After normalising the reality that anyone may or may not experience either of these, and that all experiences are equally valid, I reflected as best I could on the 'why' and 'what if' and 'if only' questions that may arise, and the scary emotions that may be experienced, with words from Psalm 22 and 139.
Lastly, my other colleague used the story of Lazarus, a story of a couple adjusting to the birth of a child with cerebral palsy, and some lines from a poem to reassure us that in it all God is present, and that there is no obvious timetable, rather that in God's time, with God's help, we'll find our way through.
Three very different approaches, and yet, somehow it flowed together as a piece.
Lighting candles to remember, listening to music, singing, praying... stilllness and openness... and through it all, hope.