Friday, April 19, 2019

Sadness as a Companion

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. I've never understood why we call it good. It seems like a very sad day to me. This newly published book could be used throughout the year in your ministry or at your home or school, particularly when a sad event occurs and affects many. In American culture, we run from sadness. Today I want to feature this intriguing book that teaches us to acknowledge and befriend sadness. We might even need to invite sadness to stay for a while.
Picture Book: When Sadness is at Your Door
Authors  & Illustrator: Eva Eland
Summary: Striking illustrations of sadness personified are found immediately in the inside covers to begin and end Eland's book.

Sadness enters a child's home unexpectedly. At first the child is unsure and puzzled.
Sadness follows and seems to need comfort in a way that is uncomfortable and even scary.
Hiding it doesn't work,
because in some sense you've become sadness yourself.
Perhaps it is best to face it, name it, and listen. Ask it what it needs. It's okay if you don't understand or can't help it just now.
You might have to simply be a companion 
or sadness might just need time and beauty
and welcoming attention.

Someday it will be gone and you will have a new day.
Hanna’s Comments: During my 2 year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a book was assigned in which personification of personal issues - everything from emotions to addictions - was explained as a powerful tool for spiritual growth and healing. The question, "What does it need?" was crucial. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love speaks of such personification in a delightful TED talk and writes about it in her book on creativity Big Magic. I have experienced such healing myself. Social science has long said that emotional literacy is crucial for emotional development. Our places of worship and families of faith are important environments for this kind of learning and healing to occur, but they must be safe, trustworthy places. 
When might this book be appropriate? 
When a much-loved member or teacher dies
When a national tragedy occurs as in Paris this week
When a pastor struggles with clinical depression or terminal illness
When many in your church are near the end of their lives
When a global church makes a decision that shuts-out many
When much has been lost across a congregation as in a major change or disaster
When your client or spiritual directee is stuck and needing a creative invitation
When Good Friday is not really so good
Demystifying sadness can be a gift to your children and all members of your classroom or congregation if handled delicately and respectfully, with no judgement or impatience. Don't view this as a way to get over sadness but as a way to companion it and be mindful of it. Find personal connections in the loss, fear, and confusion. Offer hints of hope. For this book, I would simply read it and then listen. Some gentle questions and art supplies might be good to have handy too.
Original Publisher & Date: Random House, 2019
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: There are many Bible stories that have elements of sadness besides those we hear in anticipation of Good Friday. Consider the sadness that must have been felt by Ruth, the friends of Tabitha/Dorcas, David at the death of Jonathan, and Martha, Mary, and Jesus upon Lazarus' death. Sparingly use scriptures about hope such as I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5) since this is a book about sadness being acknowledged and respected in the present.
Idea(s) for Application: Besides the ideas mentioned above, read this book to a group of children when learning about God's presence when we are sad. 

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