Transitions By: Chris Morton

How can you tell the difference between grief, mourning, and lament? Or does it all sound so not you that you would rather not tell the difference?

William Bridges in Transitions and The Way of Transitions writes about the three phases of transition—1. The Ending 2. The Neutral Zone and 3. The Beginning Again (if you are interested, here is a good primer: pdf/getting-thru-wilderness-2006-v2.pdf). What we more often than not try to do is to grab hold of the doorknob on the next door just as the last door is closing behind us—never standing in the hallway in between doors for very long, if at all.

For many of us, standing in that hallway, or in The Neutral Zone, is a living hell. I am only conjecturing, or maybe I am projecting my own fears onto you, but most of us don’t like The Neutral Zone because it is exactly that—neutral. And we like to be people of action. While society is yelling at us, “don’t just sit there, do something!” God may be whispering gently, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

The experience of those around me who have guided me in and through transitions, and what the books written by Bridges offer us is an opportunity to learn how to sit in that in-between space. Which is getting more difficult for us as the losses are stacking up: retirement of Rev. Joan, Michael Kinnamon moving to San Diego, and the loss of Scott Fikse, our music director; not to mention each of our beloved’s spouses.
Pastor, Chris Morton While we can celebrate the transitions in their lives for them, we mourn, grieve, and lament what losses mean to us. We now stand in the hallway, wanting like crazy to open the door to that new church building up on North Beacon Hill. Yet...!!! We wait.

What will we do while we wait? We will mourn, grieve, and lament. And all three are expressions of our feeling of a deep sorrow. And, I want to add, that The Psalms (e.g., Psalm 12, 60) offer another perspective on lament, for it is God who is sharing in our deep sorrow, and it is God who holds us up and brings us forth into a sense of hope and desire for a future, nonetheless. And in the Psalms, the author often expresses a trust in God that there is something more than our current reality.

It is my intention, and my fervent prayer, that we will mourn, grieve, and lament the losses that have occurred over these last six months. Further, it is my prayer that we will not avoid, but that we will find refuge in The Neutral Zone, both while we are alone, and as we gather together. For it is from this place of grief, this place of darkness, that we can experience light and hope. It is from this genuine, authentic place that we can grab hold of that doorknob; not simply to peek in, but to step across the threshold and stand up tall, ready for our next chapter in our lives together as Welcome Table.

Shalom, Rev. Chris