Rev. Amanda Robertson
The Language of Lent
Dear People of Good Shepherd,
Last week was the final session of the Hope and Grief class for any and all who have experienced a loss of any kind. I will be offering the class again. One of the benefits I see to the group is the language it gives to our grief. The materials, each in their own way, describe the experience of loss. The participants, each in their own way, describe their grief. Different phrases resonate with different people but always there is something said or read that connects.
Language does that. It makes connections. Words have the ability to build self awareness, understanding and community. Words can also equip us to respond to things that test our limits, even the limits of our language. The Hope and Grief class reflects on words not only to describe loss but also hope. The point is not to arrive at a single definition. Instead we investigate and explore the various ways hope speaks in our lives. Our words can help locate us when we are disoriented and empower us when we feel overwhelmed.
On Ash Wednesday, I invited us to consider the vocabulary of our faith. Words like grief and hope. And also repentance and sin. In her book Speaking of Sin, Barbara Brown Taylor writes:
Abandoning the language of sin will not make sin go away. Human beings will continue to experience alienation, deformation, damnation and death no matter what we call them. Abandoning the language will simply leave us speechless before them, and increase our denial of their presence in our lives.
In that brief quote alone, we are confronted with a number of difficult, uncomfortable words that defy easy definition. Words we might wish to avoid but that bear witness to the real pain and problems of life. We must speak these words, and others, too. Words like mercy and salvation.
Lent is its own season of grief and hope, of loss and restoration, of death and new life. May our words connect us, orient and equip us, may our words bear witness to it all.
with joy, Amanda
Amanda wants to hear from you:
What do you believe are the core values of Good Shepherd? Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, your top two or three and perhaps a story that illustrates them.
Are there words in our faith tradition that challenge or confuse you? Is there language that you would prefer to abandon? Or language that you cannot live without? Let me know, email@example.com.