Psalm 30:4-5, 11-12
"...The day is light before we can see. First gray, then yellow, then trees and houses appear. Similarly, we know hope before we can live into it. We know hope because we read it in our Psalms: You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
We know hope because we have suffered through all kinds of heartaches and loss, and we have healed from most of them. Knowing that hope is real helps, but until we can live in hope, it’s only as useful as the sun before it rises. A promise of joy, but we’re not feeling joy yet.
We can’t speed up the sunrise, but we can help hope become real for ourselves and one another. Just like night and day overlap in that haze of dawn, our grief and our joy overlap, when we tell the stories that break our hearts and break our hearts open....
When I was a kid I could never remember which kind of morning the mourning dove was, because its song sounds sad, but it starts singing at the beginning of the day. Our morning song is both as well. How do we get from night to day? How do we move from grief to joy? Singing a mourning song, pouring all our sadness and despair into our song. And singing with the certainty that the sun is rising and will keep rising.
As Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber says, “Your grief is real, but not as real as resurrection.” Yes the night comes, again and again. We’ve despaired and wept before and we’ll do it again. Our grief is real. And no matter what, the sun rises, life returns, resurrection happens.
You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. We must mourn before we can dance, or our praise will be hollow and our joy clothes won’t fit right. And we can mourn and dance and sing all at once. Think of a New Orleans funeral, big band sounds, spinning parades through the streets, raucous praise and despair all at once....
At a recent Nigerian pastor’s wives gathering one woman said “Because of the disastrous times we’ve been through, I didn’t know if some of these friends were still alive or not until we met again here. And that makes this reunion a particularly joyful one!” She could’ve walked into the room with despair and anxiety, wondering who had died. Instead she found joy in each woman she saw.
We don’t dance and sing just to feel joy for the sake of joy. When the hurt and loss keeps coming, like in Nigeria, we would be foolish to simply sing and dance our way to joy without seeking change – trauma recovery, rebuilding efforts, peacemaking initiatives. Our dancing and singing are not just for our personal healing, but to fuel wider change. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” said the wise Emma Goldman who knew that joy is essential in healing and liberating ourselves and one another.
When we weep all night, as we sing a mourning song through the dawn, and when we dance in the joy of a sunny morning, we bring the Kingdom of God to reign. May our own healing be the very same acts of courage, creativity and compassion that heal our communities, our sisters and brothers far away, our planet."