I was touched when I read this article about the family of Erin Peterson, one of the 31 victims of the shocking shooting incident at Virginia Tech (five years ago Apr 16). To hear Erin’s mother Celeste say “[for] a period of time my conversation with God consisted of little more than “Thank you for this day. I am not talking to you.” is comforting, somehow. We speak and write about “Extending love to your thoughts” and sometimes it feels like it is a difficult thing to do. It turns out, it is actually kind of automatic. In the face of the unimaginable, Celeste Peterson gives us a sweet example of doing just that: extending love to her thoughts; talking to God even while “not” talking to God. She allowed for her grief to have as much space as it needed. Grief is known for taking its own time and path through the killing fields of healing. Through this unthinkable event, the brutal slaying of her daughter, this mother remained aware of God’s voice. She allowed for gratitude for the rising of the sun to be her talisman and reminder that God was indeed present in her heart even now, especially now.
We learn from her example to give thanks in small daily ways, even while saying “God, I am not talking to you.” What a gift gratitude is. It is a bookmark for grace, a placeholder for things to come, a reminder of the “Is-ness” of all that is. I join Celeste in saluting and remembering her dear daughter on the eve of the Five Year Anniversary of her loss. Her daughter’s documented faith continues to give strength and credence to the truth God’s Love never fails.
For those of you living through your own deep times of loss and remembrance, without the coverage of media, know that you are not alone. Your grief counts. Let it be what it needs to be. Give thanks for the rising of the sun. Feel free to let God know you are not talking until you’re ready to talk or listen. Your heart is with you regardless, speaking to you, loving you, ever present. Give thanks for the steadfastness it offers. Give thanks for the terrible miracle of grief which indeed brings you face to face with your own heart.