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Grief and Humanity, Pain and the Self

08/01/2008

I don’t know where Simon Barrow came across this quotation on grief from Rowan Williams, but it’s worth reproducing here:

“[G]rief and desperate loneliness aren’t political things but human things. It’s only when we can get to the humanity can we begin to get beyond the sterility of historic racial and religious conflicts. Facing the abiding realities of the human condition, facing death; your own, or that of someone you love, is something that puts everything else into perspective. Change, real change, happens when we’re ready just to be human – not to use our suffering as another weapon against each other, not to argue about whose sufferings are worse, but just to recognise the same love and the same loss.”

[Update: I’ve just discovered it’s from Williams’s Christmas Eve “Thought for the Day”, which you can read in full here.]

And let me add to it this, which I read today, from his Lost Icons:

Authentic religious … practice begins in the attempt to attend to the moment of self-questioning — to refuse to cover over, evade or explain the pain and shock of whatever brings the self into question, to hold on to the difficulty before the almost inevitable descent into pathos and personal drama begins.

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