April 13, 2022
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (NRSV)
I am aware of both the joy of resurrection and the sorrow of loss as I make my way through Holy Week. I am part of a Community of Practice, a monthly gathering of a small group of pastors, where we honestly and safely share from our hearts what is happening in our lives and ministry. Our last session was titled, Go Ahead, Weep. It’s Your Easter Too![i] Our facilitator, Sid Fowler wrote, “The Spiritual says, ‘Mary, don’t you weep.’ But regardless of any advice we sing, Mary Magdalene in this Easter story does weep.”
It resonated with my own experience in this season of grief.
I decided to check out “Mary, Don’t You Weep” on YouTube. In my opinion, no one sings it better than Aretha Franklin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1C43fkjH2Y. It is a beautiful and moving Spiritual based on the story of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, who died. Everyone, Martha, Mary, their friends gathered around them in the period of mourning, and “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Only then did Jesus raise him from the dead.
As I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole, I discovered another video by Aretha Franklin that blew me away. On December 6, 201, she sang an unforgettable rendition of her own anthem of rebirth, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King, who was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement alongside Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson, and other luminaries. Check it out at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cF0tf35Mbo
Irenaeus wrote, “the glory of God is man (sic) fully alive.” That describes the fullness of life, grief, and joy, often in the same moment. Watching the video, I went from tears of grief to tears of joy, a natural, human response to beauty and loss.
You, God, make me feel fully alive, like a natural woman. ~ Anne
[i] With thanks to Rev. Dr. Sidney Fowler, our facilitator par excellence.