Written for Pacific School of Religion’s 150th Commencement Service
“Call for the mourning women to come, send for the skilled women. Let them raise a dirge over us, So that our eyes may run down with tears.” (Jeremiah 9:17-18)
What does it mean to carry the gift of grieving? To know how to touch a note, a hand, a heart, just so. Just enough. To release it.
We are the wailing women of our time. It is a skill. And we did not learn it only within the walls of this seminary. It came in with us. It is what brought us here.
A cry for justice, for healing, for revelation.
We have not come to this day of celebration, without days of burial. Each of us losing something. A theology, a life, a relationship, an old sense of self.
This loss, it is what makes us ready.
What if I told you that grief is freedom. A raw sort of integrity that demands our bodies, our vulnerability, our honesty, our wholeness. What if I told you that freedom, like grief, was inescapable. We touch it everyday. But pretend we don’t.
We treat our wounds carelessly, saying peace when there is no peace.
And we do not mean to be false prophets. We are trying to be faithful. But we have confused, peace with quiet. We were told they go together. But I’ll tell you, one does not require the other.
We forsake our healing in the name of niceness, professionalism, respectability. As if connection requires our hiding. It doesn’t.
We forget that we were called to the loudness, the intimacy, of ministry. We sing over the dead, and the birthing. And neither is quiet. Both roar in their own way.
This call, it can be lonely. And still we are not alone. It can be painful. And still we are not meant to make a god of suffering.
We are meant to be bold in our healing. Meant to use our particularities. Our uniqueness, it is the antidote to a church whose legacy has too often been the violence of conformity and colonization.
We must be authentic in our wailing. It is our witness to a grieving world. It is how we offer relief.
Grief. It is a balm. It is also a prophecy.
Pt 2 written by Nikki Hunt, Pt 3 written by Zami Tinashe Hyemingway