Grief requires beauty

IMG_20131103_130817And when people cease to believe that there is good and evil
Only beauty will call to them and save them
So that they will still know how to say: this is true and that is false.
(Czeslaw Milosz)

My dear grandmother died yesterday.

I grew up learning theologies of suffering and death. As I grew older, I read stories that presented me with answers to the problem of death and pain. I studied theodicy in my English classes and learned the vocabulary of my church’s teachings on death and suffering. I had succinct and neat answers all tied up in a nice little bow in my mind.

And then I was faced with an actual death, the first I have experienced of someone close to me. That pretty little package in my head fell apart. Questions flooded my mind, fears and doubts and deep grief at the way this world is. We weren’t made to die. I ask questions, and my husband doesn’t answer. He sits and listens and wipes my tears away. But there are no answers. We don’t have them. Answers wouldn’t help, anyway.

My husband always tells me that the answer to grief is beauty. Our theology gives us a foundation in the midst of these torrential rains, but it doesn’t satisfy our grief. My mind knows that God is good, but how hard it is for our hearts to believe it and our bodies to taste it.

Instead of talking and looking for answers, we just went on a walk by the lake. The deep blue sky held a few wispy clouds, and the breeze brought one of my favorite sounds: the wind in the trees. The water rippled gently, and we just walked, my hand in his.

Grief doesn’t require answers. Grief needs beauty. My questions don’t have answers. Many of them never will. Death hurts, and grief is good and necessary and human. But in that afternoon walk, the world reminded me that beauty is true and God is good. His ways are unfathomable and his power frightening, but the sky remains blue, and the leaves and the grass display a hundred shades of green. The water ripples again and again: constancy on display. The sun gives warmth in the autumn air, the ducks look content just paddling around the edge, and I look at my husband and love his long eyelashes and the fuzz on his chin.

Tell me that God is love, yes. Tell me that He is sovereign and that all things work together for my good. Tell me that all is in His control for the sake of His glory.

But first take me on a walk and let me taste and feel and see the goodness of God.

5 thoughts on “Grief requires beauty

  1. Mom

    The answer to grief is beauty….in the form of a small maple tree that will have blazing red and orange leaves next fall on the anniversary of her death. And we will remember how beautiful it was outdoors the last day she was conscious. She noticed it as well, and commented on it twice.

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