Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


The Grieving Widow

In his book Celtic Parables Robert Van De Weyer records the following story of Saint Comgan:

An old couple were admired by everyone in the village for the happiness of their marriage. They never quarreled, and were always loving and affectionate toward each other. Eventually the husband died, and the wife was overcome with grief. Her children and her neighbors tried to console her, but to no avail. Weeks and months passed, and still the old woman was grieving and inconsolable; tears of grief rolled down her cheeks from morning till night.

Comgan heard about her. He asked one of his wealthy friends to lend him a ring with a precious jewel set in it. He took it to the old woman, and said to her, "I want you to find a family which has no sorrows, and give that family this ring."

The woman set off in search of a family with no sorrows. She visited every home in the region and talked to every family. Finally she returned home, and gave the ring back to Comgan. Her grief had gone.
The story doubtless overstates the case as real grief would not be "gone." What happens is that the seemingly unendurable grief can be transformed into a sorrow that you can bear.

The story in my own family is of the time when my mother's family was burned out of their home, losing all but everything they owned. My grandmother was prostrate with grief for their home and possessions for quite some time. Then another family in the area had their house burn to the ground, losing some of their children to the blaze. My grandmother got up, prepared the family a meal to take over and ceased complaining about her own loss.

Knowing that others have it worse may not be the ticket out of grief, though it does help. Knowing that you are not alone in your sorrow probably matters more. It is God's healing presence within the grief that gently transforms that seemingly unendurable grief into a sorrow that you can bear.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church


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