Dealing with Separation

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

  In 1921, my father, still a toddler, emigrated with his parents and siblings to the US from Belfast. They never returned, never saw their families again.  And, in the absence of email, Twitter, What’s App, indeed even telephones and, literate enough only to get by but not to write long letters, contact to their family, for all practical purposes, ceased.

  My grandparents died when I was young and I was never able to ask them about that departure.  But my entire life I’ve imagined that visceral pain at the moment of parting….certainly akin to that of the death of a loved one.

  Recently, on holiday in Ireland [the photo is of the memorial to emigrants during the Great Hunger, taken in front of “EPIC” in Dublin], Uli and I visited the Emigration Museum in Dublin.  Overwhelmed by the anguish of the millions of emigrants throughout the centuries, I cried.  How desperate yet how brave must one be to say goodbye to dear ones….FOREVER!  Climbing aboard that boat, waving until the family and all that is familiar disappears must have torn them apart.

  Surely the faith these emigrants took with them gave them some comfort.  That ache of separation, however, came not from the loss of a connection to God, but to other loved ones.  Pondering on how to deal with such agony, I turned to Dietrich Bonhoeffer for wisdom and found this:

  “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so.  One must simply hold out and endure it.  At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort.  For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled, one remains connected to the other person through it.  It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness.  God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve – even in pain – the authentic relationship.  Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation.  But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.  One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

  Trusting that, if you are dealing with separation, you too can find comfort – and perceive God’s gift in the loss – and even joy. 

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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