Encouragement for the Journey
Greetings Fellow Traveller,
Over recent weeks I have had the privilege of taking two funerals. To compare the two services is nigh impossible. Naturally, each was very so different, the location for one was a Rugby Club, and the other was here at St Aidans. The service format and style for each was appropriate to the person who had died and our remembrance in honouring them.
However, what was present in both funeral services was the presence of loss and grief. There was mourning and grieving for the one who had died. When grief is present, we experience a ‘gap’, for someone’s presence is absent. I want to suggest that nothing or no one can fill the gap that has been created within our life when someone we love dies or is absent.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, pastor, prisoner of the Nazis executed 6.00 am 9 April 1945 at Flossenburg Concentration camp by the Gestapo. In his various writings, he wrote about the ‘Gaps’ in our lives. In his book Letters and papers from Prison he has this poem:
The Unfilled Gap
Nothing can fill the gap
When we are away from those we love and it would be
Wrong to try to find anything
Since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between
Us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap.
He does not fill it but keeps it empty, so that our communion
With another may be kept alive even at the cost of pain
Bonhoeffer writing in his prison cell and separated from his family is deeply aware of the ‘gap’ in his life, produced through enforced separation.
At various times we too experience ‘Gap’ moments in our lives. These ‘Gaps’ are generated by loss of various kinds, for each of our ‘Gaps’ will be a different shape, depth and presence, it is impossible to compare one with the other as it to attempt to fill the ‘Gap.’
May God give us strength to live courageously and compassionately with the pain of our ‘Unfilled Gaps.’