Mourning is nonnegotiable. It can’t be avoided in any life fully lived. Mourning and grieving are identical twins, and when we’ve irretrievably lost something, the healthiest thing to do is grieve. Anyone who doesn’t “grieve their losses” – the small ones and the big ones – is drowning in the river denial.
Mourning comes first and dancing comes after. We don’t usually get to begin with dancing. It comes after the mourning is over – over for the moment anyway. So the typical order is: losing, then mourning, and then dancing; and then it starts all over again when we lose the next thing or person. This order is important. It’s not against the law to switch them around or anything – it’s more like against nature. Continue reading →
A while back I ran across the prayer often used by Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Anne Lamott calls it a “Greatest Hits prayer” and posits an alternative to the opening part: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the weaponry to make the difference!”
This first “stanza” is the most familiar, but I’ve found the entire prayer, originally written by Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr, to be profound and practical. I memorized it and have prayed it many times. I may not be a recovering alcoholic, but I sure am a recovering sinner. Continue reading →