Why on earth would those who mourn be blessed? I mean, mourning is something we neither welcome nor enjoy, right? So what could possibly be so good about it? That is unless that very grieving and mourning is the substance of what’s preparing the way for something new and good and beautiful to be born.
Mourning almost always involves some sort of letting go, and none of us is very good at that. We don’t do loss very well, so we have to grieve it. Grief and mourning is the process by which we let go of what was, in order to embrace what is to come. We cannot have one without the other. Release always comes before receive. Therefore, the refusal to let go is a refusal to grow and change. It can leave us angry and bitter and frustrated.
That’s where lament comes in. Lament is the spiritual practice of mourning, grieving, and letting go. Lament celebrates what was, grieves the fact that it is no more, and opens us up to what is to be. Lament is how we keep from getting stuck hanging on in desperation to what has been, but is no more. And as long as we hang on to the way things have always been, there will be no room within or among us to imagine, and be open to, the beauty of what things can be. That’s why so many of the psalms are prayers of lament. They invite us to face our loss and our sadness, they invite us to grieve the pain of that reality, and they invite us to make space for trust and for hope.
That’s why Jesus tells us that those who mourn are blessed. For not only will they be comforted in the life to come, but they will also be comforted in this life as well. Their grieving will make room for new possibilities. In God’s economy, death always leads to new life. It’s almost as if Jesus was telling us: “Do not refuse to let go of what is gone and cannot be regained, for it will keep you from taking hold of all that is to come. And what is to come is more beautiful than you could ever imagine." Thanks be to God!