• We Feel Their <b>Grief</b> |

    A Tear..A Sigh. 


“Remember from dust you have come and to dust you shall return.”

As I sat in an Ash Wednesday service today at noon and heard the words above, I sighed. I sighed deeply. I sighed because during the service I was reminded of my (our) mortality. I sighed because I realized how far short I have fallen in living and displaying my love for God and neighbor.

SIGHS appear many, many times throughout our life experiences. I think of SIGHS  of DEEP SATISFACTION: coming to the end of a challenging day/month/year knowing you did your best, you sigh; holding an infant close to your chest as it sleeps in your arms enfolded in deep release and trust, you sigh; having your pet go to sleep in your lap and you hear his or her sigh before drifting off to sleep; lying in bed with your family all piled up on the “big bed” and you take it all in as though your heart has taken a picture of the fulness of your heart’s joy, you sigh; hearing the oncologist say the words you have needed to hear so badly–“cancer free,” you sigh.  These and others are ways we experience sighs of deep satisfaction.

There are also SIGHS of deep distress. I have one such sigh that has lain fallow in my life but continues to beg for me to write about it.  I have written and rewritten this sigh many times over the years–but never actually put to paper and pen, etc.  As is the mind’s capability, I have continually re-written and re-imagined the narrative of an experienced SIGH of deep distress in my life.

Before I share that with you, there is something I want you the reader to understand.  I believe in God who has displayed his faithfulness as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all of life.  I believe in Jesus Christ. I am Christian.  I place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior who was born, lived, died and rose again so that all may receive Christ’s promise of eternal life.  I do believe in the Holy Spirit “…as the divine presence in our lives whereby we are kept in perpetual remembrance of the truth of Christ, and find strength and help in time of need.” (“A Modern Affirmation of Faith” in the United Methodist Hymnal, #885).  This is my Faith and this is my Hope.

Now to one of my  SIGHS of Deep Distress.

It was the Fall of 1983, October 5, 1983, to be exact.  On that date my son, Jared DePriest Spurlock, died as a result of Sudden Death Syndrome. It (SIDS) can’t be fully explained. There is speculation.  Let’s just say, this death sunk deep into the hearts of all our family and many friends like an anchor plummeting to the bottom of the ocean.

At the time, I was serving the Thibodaux-Gibson-Vacherie United Methodist Churches in LaFourche Parish.  A few days after Jared’s funeral, I was sitting in my study at First United Methodist Church, Thibodaux.  I was terribly restless, sad and forlorn that I couldn’t express the depth of grief I was experiencing.  This thought kept going through my mind–if I could scream, the scream would not be loud enough to displace the anguish, the futile spirit I had closed up inside of me.  There was another thought that came to mind to me.  I just knew one day someone was going to come to my office and find me stark-raving crazy.  I had a torturing, questioning mantra that kept resurfacing day after day–why can’t I find the perfect, strong adjective to give expression to the anguish I was dealing with each day.  I felt like I was a stranded man on Canal Street in New Orleans who was running from person to person asking, begging and pleading–“Help me understand!” I felt like a swimmer gasping for air after a long, arduous swim relay.

So I– began to search the Scriptures (a good Wesleyan term).   I searched the scriptures like one who had lost the one sheep out of 99 or like one who had lost the precious coin.

And then I did something I had not done since my teen years. I opened the Bible hoping my finger would land somewhere on a page where Scripture might be cathartic, might lance my heart so that all the deep, dark black ugliness of grief might pour out like pus from a deep, infectious wound.

My finger landed on: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with SIGHS TOO DEEP FOR WORDS. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

I read those verses again and again. And suddenly, cathartically, I had a powerful, eye-opening “Aha!” moment.  I felt a relief and a release to the torturous thought that no one understood. Suddenly it became crystal clear to me–the Spirit intercedes for me (and you) with “sighs too deep for words.” Suddenly I knew, there was One who understood the depth of my grief and pain.  Yes, God understands.


I pray these words will offer solace and catharsis for any today who feel abandoned with grief, sorrow, disappointment, deep failures coated with covert or overt sins.  Please know there is One who understands!

Again, today, with full confidence I believe in God, in Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.  Further, [I] “…believe this faith should manifest itself in the service of love as set forth in the example of our blessed Lord, to the end that the kingdom of God may come upon the earth.” Amen. (“A Modern Affirmation of Faith” the United Methodist Hymnal, #885).  This is my Faith and this is my Hope!

Prayer from Psalm 51: 10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a generous spirit.” Amen.