May 31, 2013

Forty Days: Help for Grief

There is a service  in the Greek Orthodox Church that occurs forty days after a person's death. Special food is prepared to eat after the service of remembrance.  My parents, who both died in mid-January, were recently honored.

I was telling a friend, who is familiar with the Greek Orthodox tradition about the  difficulty I was having dealing with their passing. She suggested that I begin my own forty-day period of reflection to deal with the emotions I was experiencing. She didn't tell me how to structure the time or what to do. I decided to commit to forty days of reflection, asking God to direct me daily.   got a notebook, numbering each day, including the date. I wrote a few words or sentences each night. Sometimes I wrote God questions, other times I recorded new insights or perspectives received. I wrote scripture; I wrote prayers. I drew simple pictures. I brought my heart completely to God.  

I am on day 37 of 40. I have reached a place of peace. I am so grateful.

I realized that '"forty days" occurs often in the Bible. Noah was in the ark 40 days. Jesus went to the wilderness forty days. Lent lasts 40 days. There are probably more.

I want to offer  forty days of reflection'for any difficulty or challenge you are facing.  Many pastors and families are anticipating change within the next few weeks with new church appointments. 'Forty days of preparation for the move or the first forty days in a new church might be a  helpful, intentional way of spending time with God, offering grounding in uncertainty, chaos, and adjustment.

Forty days could be effective  for discernment, dealing with any type of loss, celebrating an event, planting a garden or being present to anything life presents.  

I am thankful for the way a Greek Orthodox tradition has helped me along a difficult path. I told my friend today I felt like I had experienced two Lents this year, which also means I have experienced two Easters!!  Thanks be to God!

Jacquie Reed 
Fishers, Indiana

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