Mourning, Longing, and Other Sacred Acts

What happens inside as you mourn? Where does mourning take you?

I’m guessing a lot of us have much, much more familiarity with mourning since 2020. We’ve lost things. We’ve lost people. As I, myself, have mourned, I’ve felt longing winding itself through that sense of loss. I long for people, I long for ways I experienced the world, I long for what I remember and/or for what I wish could still happen in the future even as I know it won’t – not as I’d have wished, at least. Those moments feel intense.

When I wrote the poem “Mourning” (below) I started there, with that moment of intensity when I realize an absence all over again, as it were. I tried to start and flow from there … 

A recent homework assignment in my poetry-writing workshop invited us to write about drawing near to God via mourning and longing. I’m no poet – I admit that upfront – but the challenge fascinated me. I relished the suggestion that mourning, longing, and the divine might not dwell so very far apart from one another.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash


You look
for the smile that isn’t
there anymore, see it so

so clearly as you do
even now. You look
and almost see it

everywhere, not
as before, not
as you’d want, but when

you feel yourself 
widen with memory
as it were, and love,

and something waking
inside you, you find
you can look again
and smile.

– Callie J. Smith

We mourn what is gone from us – yes – but I’ve started glimpsing that absence blossoming into a new kind of presence, as well. Love can shape us in ways that remain and flourish even after a person or a time has passed. If the loss leaves us reaching out towards what has connected us with love, reaching intensely, reaching with all that we are, then I imagine that reaching out constitutes a kind of sacred act. I don’t know why that couldn’t become a drawing near to God.

What about you? Where has mourning been taking you lately?

Smith’s novel Kat’s Dreams: A Sacred Grounds Novel Book 1(Clay Patin Press 2022) is available for free on Kindle today (5/9/23 Pacific Time) only.

Author: Callie J. Smith

Callie J. Smith is novelist and spirituality writer. She's ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

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