The Beatitudes: blessed are those who mourn.
Image: Splendor for Kayama, Makoto Fujimura
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4 he offers a perspective on life that may have been difficult for his hearers to grasp, many of whom would have been the marginalized of society; slaves, women and children. They would have already experienced their share of mourning just by nature of the fact that this was the paradigm they lived in, yet here was Jesus saying that those who mourn would be blessed (or happy!), as well as offering a promise of comfort as they do.
Read through a literal grid it seems like he is saying,
‘Actually, mourning is a good idea, not only will it make you happy but you will also find comfort when you do’
and interpreted in this way leaves us with a sense of ‘cold comfort.’ So what else might he have been saying?
Mourning accompanies death, and is often experienced (and limited) to the loss of life, a death of a loved one that brings about a finality of sorts. But what if loss was extended to include the vast array of ‘little deaths’ that we experience along our journey. We live through series of cycles, as opposed to a trajectory that catapults us from one point to another. We are invited to plum the depths of our own lives, a spiral-like drill peeling through the layers of our subjective truths, lived experiences and murky perceptions of reality. When we encounter something hidden that must be brought into the light, in order to experience change and transformation we are invited into the process of ‘letting go’, which in itself is one of those many little deaths.
Jesus says we are blessed when we mourn, it’s good for us! We will be happy when we do because mourning comes with giving something up, and many of the things we hold onto hold us back from this place of happiness, which is not some kind of fleeting moment of glee rather a deep sense of joy and peace. When we are honest about the things we need to let go and mourn their loss, then we are ripe for comfort and there we will find happiness.
It’s hard to let things go that have become a part of us, even if they are not good for us. (Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t). It requires a great honesty which rather than being a sign of failure is one of reality and truth. Letting go requires a ‘choice’ rather than a ‘resolve’ of loss that comes when something is ripped from our grasp. It’s better to be in touch with your sadness than to pretend everything is ok, it offers a glimpse that our heart is speaking from a place of softness and compassion for ourselves and others.
‘You’re blessed when you mourn, it’s a sign that you have come face to face with the reality of the things you need to let go of in order to be transformed. When you do, happiness will rest deep within you offering a great sense of comfort and peace.’