the Empathy List #53: A Good Cry
Lent is a bummer, so why not embrace it?
Hey friend, Liz here.
The last time I saw Keith was at a church service around Thanksgiving. As bearded twenty-somethings milled around us, he asked me, “How is your eye?”
“Not good,” I said. Nearby, his wife bounced their newborn in her arms while his daughter sprinted up pews, chased by children in vests and tiny loafers. I asked, “How is your cancer?”
“Not good,” he said.
These were days before Covid-19. In 2017 when Keith and I met, church meant bodies together: all the sweat and droplets mingled in communion, eight squeezed into a pew meant for five, spinning in all directions to “pass the peace” mid-service with handshakes and smiles and tears and belly laughs.
When Keith and I first met at a prayer meeting that February, we hugged, though we were strangers. Keith and his pregnant wife had sat in folded chairs to ask for healing, just like me. He was thirty-four, an east-coaster like I was with one toddler at home, and he had stage four soft-tissue cancer.
I was twenty-nine, an intern at the church with a husband and two toddlers, and my retina had begun to deteriorate that January, around the time of Keith’s diagnosis. We kept up after that, trading war stories about doctors and treatments in the foyer during the coffee hour.
Having grown up religious, church has always been part of my life, and it’s always meant a painful embodiment, an awareness always of my unsightly parts alongside the bloodied body of Christ stretched across the cross. I simply do not understand religion apart from the bodies nearby me, swaying to a shared melody or a stranger’s hand across the pew back.
COVID has changed that. Church isn’t the same. As I think we’ve all realized by now, COVID has changed nearly everything, making our lives unrecognizable. It’s even changed how we say goodbye.
Lent, like COVID, is roundly recognized as a bummer. We give up chocolate, television, and many of the things that make life shimmer.
But what would it look like for us to embrace the sadness and see where it leads us?
To see how it changes us in a time when change is ubiquitous?
To open ourselves to grief? To have a good cry?
If you’re feeling like what you really need is need a good cry, finish this story about my friend Keith that I published at Fathom Magazine.
(Is it more appropriate to say you’re welcome or I’m sorry….????)
In the meantime, know that you’re not alone. Grief is part of the human story, at every turn. There’s no beauty without ugly, there’s no joy without sorrow. We are truly all in this together. (Even the rich people with their yacht money can’t escape sadness!)
Thanks for reading, my friend.
Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
And, if you don’t mind, would you forward this email to a friend? It would mean a lot! :)
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