Friday, September 7, 2012

Week of Weeping at Work

What a week it's been at work:  in short, much weeping, weeping in the hallways, weeping in public.  Once upon a time I thought of creating small chapels so that religious students had a respite and a place to pray.  Now, I wish that I had.  Would a chapel be a more comforting cry space than a conference room?

I've been thinking about tears, about a theology of tears.  I've been thinking about our obligations of hospitality and what that means for those of us who mourn and weep.

When I was much younger, I saw a lack of emotion as a sign of maturity.  Now, I, too, cry with those who weep. It just seems cruel to let people cry alone.

I'm frustrated by my inability to make the situation different.  I can't manufacture jobs to replace the jobs that have been cut.  I can't promise that there will be no job cuts in the future.  Those decisions are not up to me.  I'm just left here on the ground to carry them out and to try to keep the school functioning.

At my school, and maybe at your workplace, we are living in an ever more haunted place:  ghosts of colleagues disappeared in prior RIFs, ghosts of programs that barely function (or cease functioning) as we no longer have the staff to carry them out, ghosts of our earlier optimism.

I try to hold on to the Easter message, that even out of death can come new life.  I try to remember that even when I think I can do nothing, I can pray.  I can listen and be present.  I can offer a tissue.  I can pray.

I can pray.  Not out loud.  I know that many of my colleagues would react in horror if I suggested that we pray together.  I'm not real comfortable with that myself.

But I can pray silently.  I can ask that God be with us all as we grieve.  I can ask for guidance.  I can ask for the peace that will allow me to be present and attentive.  I can ask for the Divine Presence to be with us all.