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  • David Carlson

554 Grief is not a process that can be rushed but must be allowed to happen over time

Day 554 Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Grief is not a process that can be rushed but must be allowed to happen over time and in its own time.

Death cannot be dealt with through quick answers, religious platitudes, or a stiff upper lip. Grief is not a process that can be rushed but must be allowed to happen over time and in its own time.

Christianity—as well as Buddhism, other religions, and natural systems—suggests that the pattern of transformation, the pattern that connects, the life that Reality offers us is not death avoided, but death transformed.

In other words, the only trustworthy pattern of spiritual transformation is death and resurrection. Christians learn to submit to trials because Jesus told us that we must “carry the cross” with him. Buddhists do it because the Buddha very directly said that “life is suffering.” Buddhism teaches us to skillfully discern the source of suffering, detach from our expectations and resentments, and end all suffering.

Death and life are two sides of the same coin; you cannot have one without the other. Each time you surrender, each time you trust the dying, your faith is led to a deeper level and you discover a Larger Self underneath.

You decide not to push yourself to the front of the line, and something much better happens in the back of the line. You let go of your narcissistic anger, and you find that you start feeling much happier. You surrender your need to control your partner, and finally the relationship blossoms or ends. Yet each time it is a choice—and each time it is a kind of dying. It seems we only know what life is when we know what death is.

The mystics and great saints were those who had learned to trust and allow this pattern, and often said in effect, “What did I ever lose by dying?” Or try Paul’s famous one-liner: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Now even scientific studies, including those of near-death experiences, reveal the same universal pattern.

Things change and grow by dying to their present state, but each time it is a risk. We always wonder, “Will it work this time?”

So many academic disciplines are coming together, each in their own way, to say that there’s a constant movement of loss and renewal at work in this world at every level. It seems to be the pattern of all growth and evolution. To be alive means to surrender to this inevitable flow. It’s the same pattern in every atom, in every human relationship, and in every galaxy. Indigenous peoples, Hindu gurus, Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus all saw it clearly in human history and named it as a kind of “necessary dying.”

Such seeing did not just start two thousand years ago. All of us have to eventually learn to let go of something smaller so something bigger can happen. But that’s not a religion — it’s highly visible truth. It is the Way Reality Works.

Yes, I am saying that the way things work and Christ are one and the same. This is not a religion to be either fervently joined or angrily rejected.

It is a train ride already in motion. The tracks are visible everywhere. You can be a willing and happy traveler. Or not.

By yielding to the sorrow, by standing in the fire of emptiness and saying yes to the mystery, we allow ourselves to proclaim our love for those who have gone before. Each of us has her own journey through grief and loss. I know we can courageously face and feel our grief in a way that honors the gift of life we have been given. Our grief never diminishes. Life simply grows around it. The train keeps swaying.

- Adapted from Richard Rohr


Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 218-219; and

Dying: We Need It for Life in Richard Rohr on Transformation: Collected Talks, Volume 1, disc 4 (Franciscan Media: 2002), CD.

Announcement: Board Meeting this afternoon 3-5pm

September 21st, 2021

3 - 5 PM

(All are welcome)

Join Zoom Meeting (Zoom will open at 2:45)

Passcode: 1234

Meeting ID: 519 315 8573

Here are the notes in WORD and PDF formats:

Board Meeting for September 21st_v2
Download DOCX • 21KB

Board Meeting for September 21st_v2
Download PDF • 42KB

These are the agenda items we have:

1. An update on our finances

2. A discussion on event support for "Celebrations of Life" and other events

3. A list of donations we have given

4. Update on celebrants for the fall and winter (any changes etc.)

5. An update on locations for resuming our face-to-face celebrations.

6. An opening discussion of the capabilities of “Google for Non-Profits

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