Celebrating a Milestone AND Grieving a Diagnosis
I (Beth) don’t remember a lot of things George (my therapist) told me years ago, but I do remember this: George said that the sign of a whole person is his or her ability to hold the blessings of life in one hand and the sorrows of life in the other. Today we’re being invited to do just that.
Today, June 1st, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Fall Creek Abbey—a milestone! And today, we grieve, with all our hearts, our 8-year-old granddaughter, Harper’s diagnosis of leukemia. Blessing and sorrow, gratitude and grief, right here, sidled up to one another.
Today we celebrate the meaningful work God has entrusted to us as stewards of this still point in our beloved city. We celebrate that nearly 10,000 guests have entered this sacred space and been affected by God’s Spirit; their souls renewed and refreshed. We celebrate that more than 120 individuals have been trained in the gracious ministry called spiritual direction and have been released as holy listeners out into the world. Today we celebrate that churches and Christian organizations around the country are healthier because their pastors and leaders are healthier through receiving spiritual direction from us and our budding list of Fall Creek Abbey Affiliates.
And today we grieve that our dear Harper has to go through this devastating health crisis—has to face 2 ½ years of grueling treatments to send leukemia into remission. We grieve that she is back in the hospital today after a brief time at home because she spiked a fever due to an infection. We grieve the toll this has already taken, and will continue to take, on Brandt and Laura and her brothers, Eli and Riley. We grieve that her brief childhood has been unwelcomely disrupted by such a dreadful disease.
What George’s words are reminding us of today is that the blessings and sorrows of life happen simultaneously AND don’t cancel one another out. They co-exist. In fact, the capacity for one deepens the capacity for the other. We know that if we are to grow in wholeness as God’s people, which is to say to become more like Jesus, then we will need to practice celebrating with joy these monumental milestones, while simultaneously engage the pain of our suffering world with frank and heart-felt sorrow.
To adopt a view that life is basically a bummer accentuated by one bad thing after another is to become cynical. To presume that life should always be a series of balloons and cakes and happy face emoji’s is to settle for a saccharin and shallow existence. We’ve encountered both outlooks in others along the way, and they are equally off-putting. Today we long and pray for the integrity of wholeness as George named it; for increased capacity to hold gratitude and sorrow together with open hands. He didn’t say it would be easy.
So, by all means, please celebrate with us this joyous milestone! If you’ve been affected by the Spirit of God during a time at Fall Creek Abbey, we’d love to hear about it! We’ve created a Kudoboard where you can leave your comments and share your stories. AND please join us in praying for our beautiful Harper and her dear family, as we implore God for her complete healing!
Thank you with all of our hearts!
Beth and David Booram