I have been cut to my knees by the news of the plane crash over the French Alps. I’ve tried to figure out why this event unnerved me to the point of breakdown. There have been considerable tragedies the world over this last week. They all are upsetting, but were not debilitating. This event reminded me how vulnerable the people I love are. Flying in an airplane is something I can easily identify with. Everyone in my immediate family has been in an airplane in the last 6 months.
I avoided watching the machinations on TV, but on the Thursday before Palm Sunday I watched the news. Later in the day, my husband and I drove to San Diego to visit friends. The feelings of unremitting grief washed over me. I cried, no sobbed most of the journey to our destination. I could not stop visiting the grieving families and friends in my imagination. I could not stop crying and crying out. I felt such vulnerability for the people I love. In the middle of it all, it occurred to me that this was lamentation. This was a time for lamentation. Senseless death calls for lamentation: facing the reality that “Why?” doesn’t have an answer
People want to know why, as if somehow that will help. If we can understand why we think that somehow that makes the world a little less chaotic and unpredictable. But there is no real satisfactory answer to “why”. Every answer rings hollow because the clock cannot be turned back. The people who died have been torn from the people who love them. Thousands of lives are irretrievably changed. Answering “Why?” doesn’t provide solace.
Lamentation takes courage. It takes courage to lament loss without knowing if comfort will ever come. The Christian faith makes room for grief and lament.
As I sobbed and wept, the impending events of Holy Week lay in the foreground. The death of Jesus is also something to lament. The day Christians call “Good Friday” is the remembrance of a senseless death, as far as I’m concerned. It’s purpose is to call out of us the lamentations that need to be expressed, not only for Jesus, but for all the people who are made scapegoats, for all the violent deaths, for all the senseless deaths. God weeps for these people. Our lamentation is in some small way a means of honoring their lives: the memory of them. Our lamentation in some way releases the destructive impulses and creates space for healing to take root.
Today is “Good” because it is a good day to lament, meaning appropriate, fitting. It is a day
to let loose our griefs and make space for God’s tenderness to settle in beside us.