Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Where were you?

 It's been a while, and that's okay. If you are still here - thanks for sticking around! If you are new I'll try to keep this little patch of poetic weeds watered with some salty tears and dark humor.

This is a long one, and before you get excited about arguing it or defending someone you think you see remember this: We all can be there, but that's a choice. Grief, losing someone isn't easy. It's not comfortable. It's not supposed to be. Neither is the work of being a present friend - don't wait for wise words or powerful actions, just show up. Be quiet, offer a hug and some coffee, a flower or a smile. Being there is the key - nothing else. And you won't be comfortable. You shouldn't be.  


Where were you?

Where were you when the hearts were breaking?

When the tears were falling, and the fears loomed large?

Where were you when the presence of a friend

Would have been a gift more valued than gold?

Where were you when it was uncomfortable and messy?

Whose tears did you brush away, who did you comfort?


Oh WAIT! I know! You were anywhere BUT there.

It was uncomfortable. It was hard. It wasn’t something

You wanted to do. Something YOU didn’t WANT to do.

Huh. Guess what? NO ONE wanted to be THERE!

It wasn’t comfortable for ANYONE! It shouldn’t be!


Where were you when your friends were broken hearted?

Off and away where it wasn’t messy or hard or uncomfortable.

Where were you when we were cleaning wounds with tears?

Where were you when we were speaking love to memories of the dead?

Hiding out in your comfortable away place.

Hiding out from those who needed you.

You were busy. You were doing important things.

So, we sat with our pain, washed in our tears and held our own hands.

We took comfort in the few who were brave enough to be present.


I know you CARE. I think you think you TRIED. But did you?

Was your BUSY so important? Was it something you can even remember?

How was it in our loss that instead of drawing near you too left us?

We stood as tall as we could, tears washing down, and missing comfort.

Comforting others in their pain, being present in the messy.


I’ve been busy with the dying, the dead, the living and the grieving.

I need to know…

How did your faith get represented in the pain of your friends?

But you weren’t there.

Who heard your testimony of presence in grief?

But you didn’t say anything.

Was there a lesson in being present in the lowest places?

But you weren’t there.

Is your silence ‘giving us space to heal’ or is it uncomfortable guilt?

Where were you, my brothers and sisters?

Or do you feel justified in your distance? Righteous to be above it all?

Are you so holy and above us all that you truly can skip grief?


And you, you shepherd to the easy flock, what about you?

You had no comforting words, no prayers to speak over us.

Your religion kept you where the money greased your palms

And the right people sang the right verses to your favorite hymns.

You only asked one who spoke for everyone, and no one at all.

For you there is less than contempt, less than indifference.

For you the dust from my sandals is shaken and the path beckons.


Those who were there in the ugly crying, the angry sobs bless us.

Thank you.

Those who listened to the hurt and offered silent love bless us.

Thank you and you.

Those who showed up, sat quietly and shared tears bless us.

And you, you know how much you helped, don’t you?

Those who stood by, near and far, in silent love bless us.

Thank you.

Those who patiently rode the waves of sadness bless us.

Thank you.

Those who heard the dark humor, the memories bless us.

Thank you. You got it.


Do one thing, if you have come this far, just ONE THING.

Be present. In the hurt. The mess. The pain. Be there.

Dance in the storm, hold hands in the hurt, wipe the tears.

BE THERE. Don’t flinch. Don’t look for easy or comfortable.

Be brave and present. Pray without words, with sighs.

You can’t heal this. I can’t either. But together, maybe…

Just maybe we can come through it like a stormy night.

Messed up, banged up but better for it. Together.

And maybe together we can learn to forgive ourselves.

And forgive them too, for no one earns grace.


Copyright Shanyn Silinski 2020

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