Contemplative Life

Walking with Grief — A Celtic Prayer

Do not hurry as you walk with grief
It does not help the journey

Walk slowly, pausing often

Do not hurry as you walk with grief
Be not disturbed by memories
that come unbidden
Swiftly forgive and let
Unspoken words, unfinished conversations
be resolved in your memories

Be not disturbed
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief

If it is you, be gentle with yourself
Swiftly forgive, walk slowly,
Pause often,
Take time

Be gentle as you walk with grief

– Author Unknown 

We invite those of you who might be grieving to a retreat on April 5-7th. Grief is the natural response to the loss of something or someone who is precious to us.  It can be a beloved friend, spouse, child, or parent;  a treasured relationship broken; a dream unrealized or dashed; health diminished; resources taken.  Grief is so ubiquitous to the human experience that Douglas McKelvey compiled an entire volume of liturgies for the grieving (Every Moment Holy, Vol. II).

Grief is as varied as the people we love and the good we hope for, and so loss comes to us all, unasked for, but surprisingly bearing gifts of deepening richness.  Grief can become our friend, an undeniable companion, that lets us know that we need to tend to our hearts and to our bodies as they bear the weight of emotion.  Jesus wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus.  He grieved over the suffering that awaited the people of Jerusalem. He sweat drops of blood in the garden.  For me it was the awakening that a broken heart is not just metaphorical but can also be physical.

Grief is a form of suffering, which when shared in the presence of the Trinity and the empathetic presence of companions in the Way, produces the character, hope, and glory Paul testifies to from his own experience with suffering (Romans 5:1-5).  See Curt Thompson’s The Deepest Place for a rich unfolding of this most tender of realities.

Henri Nouwen in Turn My Mourning Into Dancing refers to the journey with grief as a series of movements as we learn to dance with God.  First, we lament as the waves of grief wash over us.  Then comes the capacity to release what and who we held so dear.  Then comes hope reborn.  Our capacity to love those in pain grows deeper.  And with time we are freed to embrace our own deaths without fear.  (I Cor 15:54-55)  (From Turn My Mourning Into Dancing).

Grief is the opening of our hearts to realms of wonder unimagined.  Tolkien expressed it thus, “Until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”  (Return of the King, p. 232). And so the invitation to walk slowly with grief taking time to gently pause in wonder.

Coracle is offering a weekend long retreat for those seeking companionship in their  journey with grief April 5th-7th . Whether you’re walking through the loss of a loved one or the loss of a dream, job or a community, our heart is to create a space for you no matter the form grief has arrived into your life. For more information visit this link at Coracle Grief Retreat or contact Scott Buresh at

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