By Hannah Gallo, Ministerial Intern
I remarked to my fiancee the other day that I missed some things about urban ministry–the immediacy of the need, the fact that people I’m serving are living on the street, or haven’t had a hot meal in a day, or struggling mightily to keep it all together. But in the same breath (because I’m a verbal processor), I said it was staggering just how much a community of only three hundred can be holding at any given moment: divorce, mental illness, dementia, cancer, drug abuse, or domestic violence
When I look at this list, I realize just how much of life is made up of tragedy and pain. It is the calm moments, the in-between boring moments, that we try to savor because time is often marked by chapters of profound hardship. And more specifically, life is about loss. I have learned and heard of all the losses in this congregation in the five years since calling Reverend Kim. I am in awe of the strength and resilience of each of you – the tender ways you have cared for one another, shown up for one another, and nursed one another back to a new version of whole after the passing of a loved one.
Death is uncomfortable to face. We do a lot to keep it at bay, despite its best attempts. We seek a semblance of control and a modicum of assurance that we have power over our days, that our lives are ours to claim, but death is universal and experiences of loss are woven into the fabric of each our lives.
It is with this in mind that I have put together a class on grief and loss. It is not a support group: it’s a theologically grounded opportunity for exploration and education on what it means to die, what it means to grieve, and what it means to age. There are different kinds of death: biological, social, spiritual. Over the course of five sessions, I hope to hold space for honest and searching conversation that examines the ways in which we have been irrevocably changed by loss and the ways in which we are always dancing with death.
We will read texts by Joan Didion, Atul Gawande, and Sherwin Nuland. We will read poetry by Wendell Berry and articles from The New Yorker. We will share stories and shore up our reserves for how to endure and find peace amidst a life marked by loss.
The class is scheduled to begin on Sunday, Nov 4th. It will run for five sessions from 12:30pm-2:30pm.