I don’t do mourning. I’m an optimist. Some would say overly optimistic. Add visionary to that mix and you have a great recipe for someone who is always thinking of what’s next… and never present in ‘right now.’ That’s something I’m working on. My ‘goto’ for pain or sadness is to immediately see the good that could come from this… or at least start dreaming about what good things could be next.mourning

What’s the problem?

I’m actually avoiding pain. I hide in optimism and dreaming about the future.

How is this a problem?

This stops me from fully engaging in my own process of healing.

It also stops me from connecting fully with my friends and family in their pain. AND it prevents my friends and family from fully connecting with me.

If I don’t mourn with those who mourn I will move on and build a disconnection between myself and those I need to mourn with.

But it’s vulnerable! It feels weak. Its scary.

It’s necessary… IF I want to fully experience the joy and beauty and delight that is promised after mourning.

Our cause of Pain

My community is experiencing a disaster labeled the Carr Fire. A couple hundred THOUSAND acres burned in a wildfire. Over a THOUSAND homes were destroyed. That’s one thousand families. Uprooted. Displaced. Uncertain. Hopes and dreams burned.

We had moved into our dream home six weeks before the fire. It was an oasis; a beautiful reminder of New Zealand – my home country. The house is nestled in three acres of woodland that drops to a seasonal creek (and small waterfall) at the back. Beyond that is the Swasey Recreationonal Area. This is protected land with over 17 miles of running and biking and hiking trails. It connects all the way through to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

It now all looks like Mordor from Lord of the Rings. Well, almost.

This is not going to be fixed in a week or a months time. This will be years.

It’s a long term situation

We are super grateful that our home survived thanks in great part to a legendary fire crew. Fire burned all around but the house itself was untouched. Houses over the road were destroyed. We have smoke damage. Our insulation requires replacing and the A/C ducts require cleaning and the whole house will get a restoration clean. The food that rotted has been tossed and now the fridge will need replacing. A couple acres need new landscaping.

My family remains displaced as we wait for the air to clear and the house to become habitable.

My teenage daughter is coughing like an old woman. Another daughter has to completely rethink her 16th birthday party.

Both set’s of our parents were due to visit during this time from New Zealand. More than seeing the dream home, we haven’t seen them for a couple of years.

We had to call and say ‘don’t come.’ That was hard.

“Here’s our dream home…. Um… the whole area just got burned. It’s black and depressing. Don’t come.”

I don’t need your sympathy. I need my mourning.

Recently someone read an passage of scripture from Isaiah 61:

To comfort those who mourn,

To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

I heard God say

“Andy, you will experience My comfort to the degree you allow yourself to experience mourning.”

Dang! What’s the condition to experience comfort, consolation, beauty, joy and praise?


2. Even more mourning

3. Ashes

4. Still more mourning!

5. A spirit of heaviness (fainting or despair)

So I’m learning to be present in the pain

I’m learning to acknowledge what I am sad for. I made a list.

Acknowledge the loss, the hurt, the pain. Don’t be in a rush. Allow yourself to be present. Be kind to yourself.

I’m not comparing with others who may have lost more or less; I am being present in MY mourning.

And I know reward is coming:

Connection with myself. Connection with the God of all comfort. Connection with my family.

I won’t let whats next stop me from experiencing what’s now.

Dance in your ashes

Here’s a video of two inspirational friends of mine – Ben and Becky. They lost their home in the fire. We got to sift the ashes with them and they were the most hope-filled people of all. We prayed for them afterwards and they prayed for us. Someone had a picture in his imagination of them dancing in the ashes – metaphorically or otherwise. Then they spontaneously did this…

(The music is actually the song they danced to at their wedding. We added it to the video afterwards.)

This is what it looks like to be present in a moment: