Winter Lament

Week Four: Sunday

Faith traditions across the United States, perhaps across the world, are offering a special service this time of year as the longest night, December 21, approaches.  These services are often called “The Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas,” and their intention is to recognize, not shy away from or deny, the pain, grief, and loneliness that do exist in this “hap, happiest time of the year.”  The fact that so many of these services will be held virtually because of the pandemic underscores not only the loss of loved ones but also the loss of physical community, yet another grief. 

It is not unfaithful, as we wait for the Light, to acknowledge our emptiness and our shadows, to be like the ancient Jews who lamented over the destruction of their holy city Jerusalem and life as they had known it:  “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).  The Christ-Light himself wept over that same city and at the death of his good friend, Lazarus.  Tears are signs of a love too deep for words.  Tears are sacred.

If we were to take that ancient verse and rewrite it for ourselves, we might lament, “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered” . . . last Christmas when everyone was gathered . . . “when we remembered” . . . a spouse, parent, child, sibling who has died . . . “when we remembered” . . . a former friendship, a divorce, a lost opportunity, lost job, lost dream . . . “when we remembered” . . . our youth, our agility, our health . . . “when we remembered” . . . our country as we thought it was, the inequality of people made with the same divine spark of Light, our fragile Earth . . . “when we remembered” . . .

Today on this fourth Sunday of Advent, themed the “Love” Sunday in many Christian denominations, we remember with love what and who are no longer present, not so that we sink into a depression or cringe at any carols we hear, but to honor our own Selves, selves made in the same image of a Creator who understands the toll of loss.  To love our Selves includes being compassionate toward our Selves, without judgment.

I will light a candle today for myself and for all those in any kind of grief, and I invite you to do the same as we pray a litany of remembrance taken from the Rabbi’s Manual, a guide to Jewish rituals.  May our prayers and our lights spread out beyond our homes and in to every dark corner of the universe where the Light longs to shine., even within the corners or our own hearts.  Blessings to you, from my inner heart to yours.

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live,
for they are now a part of us, as
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.


“The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” John 1:5

Author: remcmahan

Poet, writer, minister, wanderer, traveler on the way, Light-seeker ~ hoping others will join me on the journey of discovering who we are and were meant to be. You can reach me at or at my blog,

2 thoughts on “Winter Lament”

  1. Powerful and moving, Rosemary. And I’m so glad you included the remembrance prayer. I’ve been trying to find the copy I had and couldn’t remember (ha) what it was called to look it up. Thank you for this reflection…and all of them!


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