“The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. Oh wall of the Daughter of Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night….pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.” ~Lamentations 2:18-19
These words of the prophet Jeremiah situate themselves in a devastating part of Judah’s history—the destruction of Jerusalem. As it lay in ruins, Jeremiah speaks of what the community is collectively grieving in the death of their beloved city and the thrust into exile for the third time. They are a people desperate for hope. For restoration. For shalom. Soong-Chan Rah says that, “Shalom requires lament” because its very nature is to “embrace the suffering other.”1 In a time when we as God’s people yearn for a collective shalom, we are reminded that we must first enter into a collective lament.
On April 8, The Seattle School’s Sacred Space group hosted a virtual lament service to create a space for individual and collective mourning over the losses of what we knew as life. Faculty, staff and students gathered to see the faces of the suffering other and to collectively lament—in song, word, and prayer. We ended our time by praying through a poem by Christine Valters Painter, pausing at each stanza to write the names of those heavy on our hearts, to write our laments, our pain, our grave sense of scattered losses. It was a raw and beautiful time to pour our hearts out like water in the presence of the Lord.
During the service, artist and alumnus Kate Creech 2 acted as a witness to our community lament and created this piece of art to hold our feelings of confusion, anger, and grief. As she scrolled through the suffering faces and words of those in attendance, her brushstrokes acted as “expressions of what was both spoken and unspoken.” We are grateful for her witness and illustration of this sacred evening.
While the service is over, our lament is not. Grief will continue to come in waves as we endure the changes we have been forced to adapt to and as we long for the presence of the ones we live life with the most.
How are you grieving? In what creative and available ways have you found for your bodies to express its pain? Kate reminds us that artistic expressions can act as a mouthpiece for our souls’ greatest afflictions, containers for our unspeakable laments. We stand suspended in a time that knows not its return to life as we knew it. As you hold these tensions and uncertainties, know that our communal lament is necessary to see our shalom.
Sacred Space is curating a virtual gallery to offer space to communally share how we are processing in this season. We would love to be witnesses to the ways you have been showing up with yourself to grieve and lament. Follow this link to submit a photo of your art, a written piece, a recording of you playing music, or any other form of processing. In the coming weeks you can visit the Intersections blog to see artists highlighted.