Let me begin with a very old poetic story written as a part of the Wisdom Literature in the Bible.
Basically we find out that there is very wealthy nobleman, upstanding citizen of his time, Job who has just lost some of his children, his large home and esteemed career. On top of all that loss he also gets sick and has these painful sores all over his body. Then we read that
11-13 Three of Job’s friends heard of all the trouble that had fallen on him. Each traveled from his own country—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuhah, Zophar from Naamath—and went together to Job to keep him company and comfort him.
These friends are his contemporaries, neighboring leaders / princes, thought leaders of their day who traveled cross-country to visit their friend. There is so much more to say about these 2 sentences but for the sake of time, lets keep reading-
When they first caught sight of him, they couldn’t believe what they saw—they hardly recognized him! …Then they sat with him on the ground. Seven days and nights they sat there without saying a word. They could see how rotten he felt, how deeply he was suffering.
This for me, is a picture of holding space.
We later find out that each friend presents to Job their ‘seasoned’ advice which ends up being not really helpful at all, but before that, they literally lay down beside their friend in silence for a week!
Do you have a friend who could sit next to you for a week and not say anything? Someone who can see how rotten the situation is? How horrible you feel? How deeply you are suffering? Yet not feel the need to say a word? Someone who would travel across the country to grieve with you?
Are you that person for anyone in your life?
Are you able to sit silently even for 5 minutes with a loved one? Do you find yourself trying to say things to make the situation better, but actually are at a loss for words?
This might be because in suffering, in loss, in heartbreak, and death, Hope comes in the form of solidarity not solutions.
Solidarity often comes in silence rather than speech.
So how do we embrace silence?
How do we hold that type of space?
We believe its held for us - we experience it being given to us. We find that when we seek God for solutions we are met with solidarity. We find that when we seek answers, we are met with silence.
This disorientation allows us to meet ourselves in our grief. This disorientation allows us to meet God in our grief.
This disruption serves to inform a new, more expansive way of dealing with our grief, our heartbreaks and losses. We find we are capable of trusting without solutions. That perhaps the words that were not said have said everything.
That space actually can heal.
That silence soothes.
and that solidarity is more powerful than solutions.