I am joining with Prodigal Magazine and SheLoves Magazine to explore A Broken Hallelujah.
There's a big link-up so go and check it out for lots of different takes on the theme.
She apologises. She can't come because of the funeral, and I nod, that's fine. Please don't worry. I ask a little more and she tells me of a young boy's death. She whispers 'suicide' not wanting to tempt, by saying it aloud. Perhaps if the word is swallowed, unspoken, it will not have happened.
Family draw around as his mother bears and breaks. She bears as a mother should never have to. To imagine the loss of a son is not enough, but it is all, at this moment. To carry a little of the pinching, endless discomfort of walking in her shoes. The complexity, the mystery, of bearing one another's burdens.
I feel it too, with my friend as her shoulders shrug and fall. 'What can I do?', says her helpless, uncomfortable expression. We are so like animals, who retreat to tend their wounds, because we do not quite know how to be broken in company. We are reluctant to be a bother, but it's being broken together that makes us family. That bonds us indelibly.
Judas hung himself, you know. Matthew said so. And he did it after the men who paid him washed their hands of him. "That's your responsibility" they said and would not accept the bribe back. The temple door slammed in his face.
So utterly alone. Left with his own failure. Unbearable. And he could not contemplate asking another to help him carry it. This is despair. To be so separated from community that no one can reach you to help.
And the paradox of desolation is that, in the midst of the deepest need for community, the desolate one feels an ocean away from everyone. How do we reach them? And how do we recognise who is desolate? There is no simple answer for recognising risk and who is really despairing. Psychiatrists struggle to predict suicide risk, and despairing people do not want to cause us inconvenience, so they do not let us see their struggle.
Our sensibilities make some subjects harder to talk about and I think that despair and suicide are difficult topics to raise. I think we would learn more grace if we could allow more despair to be acknowledged. If we could listen to more struggle and allow our community to help us carry burdens. Sometimes soldiering on and covering up struggle teaches others that despair and brokenness are not acceptable.
There is one broken hallelujah we could look to. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, asks his friends to pray with him because he is sorrowing to the point of death. He does not hide his despair or withdraw from support. He is hungry for it in his time of need.
And I'm preaching this one to myself.