The death of someone we love pulls the rug from under us. We lose our balance. Sometimes we topple over. And no ground ever looks totally solid or safe again.
We are in disarray caused by pain.
Grief plunges us into chaos. Mental, physical, emotional and spiritual chaos.
Sleep, appetite, concentration, speech, decision making, are disordered.
We don’t know ourselves or what we need. Others know us even less, and that can push relationships into turmoil too. Turmoil adds to turmoil. Chaos brings deeper chaos.
In the Biblical tradition chaos is symbolised by the sea. All that is unimaginable, unjust, horrific, inhumane, excruciating, unresolved, is held in that metaphor of the sea. A place and a state out of control, dangerous, shifting, unfathomable and full of unspeakable destruction.
A sea of grief.
Our lament on All Souls Day as we remember those we love who have died, testifies to our experience that we know this sea. We recognise that the brutality of death seems to prevail and that we don’t want it to. God make it stop.
Revelation 21:1-6, today's reading, tells us that when God finally comes to live with us 'the sea will be no more.' Even in the frustration and mystery of having to wait that is hope. It is hope, not of grief contained or limited. Our hope is that it will be no more. Christian hope is not wishful thinking, but knowledge of something we simply do not yet see, as if gravity will one day be made visible. So this is our hope in a torrent of grief; the sea of chaos will be no more. Our grief will be no more.
When God comes to live with us finally the sea of death will be no more. Every sad thing will be made untrue. We follow Jesus in life, through death and into resurrection because Jesus offers us that new deathless world of perfect union with God and others. The funeral tea will be transformed into a resurrection feast. Not because we will be OK with it, or because 'time is a great healer,' but because the dead will rise. Jesus was the first. That is our hope.
But for now, we wait, even as the seas rise. Even as the seas literally rise bringing new torment. Despite and because of the chaos we share the bread and wine of a condemned man’s last meal that becomes a wedding feast even as we ingest it.