Have you ever lost something? I’m sure you have. I have.
My husband and I lost a set of votive candles in their lovely holders that we used on our deck and patio table. We put them away for the winter in a place where we were certain we would find them, but that was not the case. This early spring we both searched everywhere we could think of at least three times to no avail.
These were not terribly expensive and yet I liked everything about them and I couldn’t stop them from reappearing in my mind. Each time they did I would search again. Then one day late this fall I shifted a cardboard box I had moved multiple times and decided to open it. There they were.
Sometimes we lose something of far greater value to us. I can think of more than one of those. Some I later found, but others were lost forever and yet I remember them years later.
Those examples as well as people who are no longer in my life came to mind as I watched “Mary Poppins Returns.” One of the most poignant scenes and songs in the movie is “The Place Where the Lost Things Go.” If you have seen the movie, I am guessing you might find that scene and song moving as well when Emily Blunt sings it to the Banks children whose mother died a year before.
The music and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman include these verses:
“Do you ever lie
Awake at night
Just between the dark
And the morning light
Searching for the things
You used to know
Looking for the place
Where the lost things go
Do you ever dream
Wondering where to find
What you truly miss
Well maybe all those things
That you love so
Are waiting in the place
Where the lost things go
Memories you’ve shed
Gone for good you feared
They’re all around you still
Though they’ve disappeared
Nothing’s really left
Or lost without a trace
Nothing’s gone forever
Only out of place”
Few losses compare to the loss of those people most dear to us. In many ways they too are “out of place.” Memories of them linger and some remain vivid for a very long time. We may have the hope of heaven and seeing them again, but they are not here now in the place in our lives where they have always been.
Such is the anguish of C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed as he writes candidly about the
death of his wife, Joy. The book resonates because this theologian doesn’t wrap his sorrow in scriptures that are meant to comfort and yet cannot reach the ache left behind. His words model what it means to lament in the midst of loss, to trust God with not only our sadness but also our anger and disappointment when death has taken someone from us and we know the Lord has power over death.
The gift of lament is that it invites us to come near to the Lord again when He may feel distant from us in the midst of our loss.
“When the only thing you can sense is God’s absence, lament is the rope that will keep you tethered to his presence. Lament helps you hold on to God because it is an honest form of worship and communication with him.” Aubrey Sampson
Lament also invites us to look back and it is in looking back we can often see more clearly. We can recall the person who called at just the moment we needed to hear from someone, the hug that was offered without unnecessary words, and we can see the Lord’s love in the midst of our sorrow.
Lament allows you to feel what you’re feeling and not force yourself to be somewhere that you are not. Aubrey Sampson in The Louder Song puts it this way: “In fact, you don’t have to do much: just let him love you − you and all your mixed emotions, too. God’s love will transform you. You don’t have to force it.”
There are so many other losses that go unacknowledged. Losses come with an illness that doesn’t get resolved and leaves us different than we were before or when our bodies age and won’t respond as they once did. Living means we will experience loss. It wasn’t supposed to be this way and yet ever since the Garden of Eden it has been so.
“Lament is the art of trusting God no matter what he gives, no matter what he takes.” Aubrey Sampson
One of the greatest gifts we can offer to others is to be able to be with someone in the midst of their lament, in their loss. Our response is not to try to fix them as Job’s friends did, but rather to allow ourselves to be a safe person for them so they can be however they are at that moment and not be alone.
Many of you have read the review of The Louder Song that appeared on my website on February 1 of 2019. Aubrey Sampson’s words and teaching on lament speak clearly on how we deal with “things out of place” and when we wonder “where the lost things go.”
“Lament declares that we have a God who hears, a God who speaks, a God who sees, a God who opens our eyes to see him, a God who calls us by name, a God who invites us into his purposes for the world. Even when we are wandering and doubting − even when we are far from where we should be, even when we are facing the worst − God is close.”