Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thoughts on Didion and Grief

I've been thinking a lot about it means to grieve as a non-believer.

I find it unfortunate that so many Christians, in our culture that is dominated by Christians, seem to care more about whether or not they have to bake cakes for gay people, and so forth, than connecting with others, even queers, around these shared human experiences. (That being said, there is more to Christianity that I am unable to believe in or connect with than these anti-LGBT interpretations).

Joan Didion, in The Year of Magical Thinking, called grief, "the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself." That seems about right.

Didion ends the book with no apparent resolution of her grief at the death of her husband John. Instead, the book simply finishes:
"I think about swimming with [John] into the cave at Portuguese Bend, about the swell of the clear water, the way it changed, the swiftness and power it gained as it narrowed through the rocks at the base of the point. The tide had to be just right. We had to be in the water at the very moment the tide was right. We could only have done this a half dozen times at most during the two years we lived there but it is what I remember. Each time we did it I was afraid of missing the swell, hanging back, timing it wrong. John never was. You had to feel the swell change. You had to go with the change. He told me that. No eye is on the sparrow but he did tell me that."
Is the lesson that, in the absence of belief in a supreme deity, we non-believers go forward by going with the changes, even the horrible ones, without expectation of someone/something coming along and fixing it all for us, in the end?  Is it that, we find meaning in our lives through the indents we make on other people's lives and that they, in turn, make on ours?

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