There are some books that you just need. Not because you are a pastor or a particularly dedicated lay person or because you preach or are waiting for a call or are even a Christian, but you need this book because you are human. You need this book because it will give you words for when you don’t have them and it will help you shape your own words of which you feel you have too many.
Jan Richardson‘s The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief is such a book. Written after her husband’s unexpected death in the days, weeks, and months that followed, this book is a rending and ashen path of what it is like to feel the gape, pull, and scar of deep grief. Each blessing is like a contract with the reader- words that Richardson has rolled around in her heart, head, hands and is giving to you, like a rough-edged rock, to handle and contemplate.
The titles like “Blessing in the Anger”, ” Blessing for Falling Into a New Layer of Grief”, “Blessing for Dining Alone”, or “Blessing of Courage” draw you to their pages only to find what you didn’t expect. These are not hearty, feasting blessings nor are they small amuse-bouche snippets. These are the bone broth of blessings- the words and phrases that come when everything else has been stripped away, most nourishing and the violence of the sourcing was inescapable.
It will take your breath away/ how the grieving waits for you/ in the most ordinary moments. (42)
People will want to help/ when you cannot know/ what could help, what could ever make/ the world stop falling away/ from beneath your feet,/ from your heart that/ will never be here,/ will never beat here,/ in the same way. (27)
Because I do not know/ any cure for sorrow/ but to let ourselves/ sorrow. (122)
Do not buy this book anticipating funerals or how it be useful in Lent or on Longest Night or even for a friend. I recommend this book for you- a book to read when you feel your feelings, think your thinks, and are overwhelmed by the doings of the day. There is deep grief afoot in the world and in our lives. It is good to have a friend who speaks the language. A Cure for Sorrow is the friend that such a horrible, quotidian journey requires.
The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit.
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