To Heal We Must Remember

To Heal We Must Remember

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
January 22, 2021

It caught me. When the lights went on around the Reflecting Pool, a feeling of overwhelming grief rolled over me.

Like so many of us, I was watching the simple ceremony on the Washington Mall on the evening of the 19th to honor the coronavirus victims. Four hundred lights were set around the Reflecting Pool, each one representing one hundred thousand lives lost. Near dusk a prayer was offered.  Two gospel singers sang. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden spoke briefly, and then the lights were turned on and there was silence. The ceremony was simple, short and quiet.

My tears surprised me but they shouldn’t have: we have all been enduring a terribly difficult season with people we know getting sick and some dying. There has been a divisive political season that divided families and ended friendships.  And then, of course, there are our own personal losses that no one else might ever know or name.
We’ve kept going through it all. We’ve done life through it all.

Sometimes, though, you have to stop. You have to let grief stamp its feet, pound the walls and sing a lament. Recognizing what you have lost...who you have lost.
Not so you stay there but so you can be fully alive, be real, and then move on.

There can’t be a new beginning in life, we can’t step into a new chapter, until we do the hard work of remembering and grieving. 

President Joe Biden, in his remarks, said, “To heal we must remember.”

The psalmist, in Psalm 30, tells us they have been in the depths and they called out for help to the LORD. God rescued them. God brought them up from the pit. The psalmist says “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

In the middle of our grief, the psalmist has a profound experience with the favor -the love- of God, and the heart that was broken now sings with joy.


Just so you know: it’s okay to stop and remember, coming face-to-face with what you have lost. If you discover tears on your cheeks, they are a sign you are alive...and God is at work to heal the sad place inside. Through our tears, we often come to know the steadfast love of God and joy comes in the morning.

Twenty-two year old Amanda Gorman, at this key moment in our national life, read her poem “The Hill We Climb.” In part, the poet writes:

When day comes, we ask ourselves:
Where can we find light
In this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed.
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

There is always Light, if only we are brave enough to see it. 
There is always Light, if only we are brave enough to be it.

There are tears, yes. And yet even in the middle of the tears we can know the One who is Light in this never-ending shade. The dawn is ours.


Join us for worship online. The service “premiers” at 8:30 a.m. on our website, Facebook and YouTube, and is then available for you at whatever time is convenient for you.

In Christ and for Christ,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706 | 260.925.0885