Capture Your Grief Photo Challenge- Altar- October 2014Saturday, October 11, 2014
I have been writing this one since the first day of the photo challenge because when I saw it on the list I understood that it was so important that it would require more attention than the rest of the challenges.
I have to be clear- this is not directed towards anyone- it's solely for me.
A confession of my own convictions.
It's the type of subject that would be a normal post for me as I sort out my feelings about my loss and how it's affected my faith. It's actually something that has been floating around in my head for quite some time now, though slightly different in the specifics.
The definition of altar is as follows:
"an elevated place or structure, as a mound or platform, at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices are offered to gods, ancestors, etc."
This is my altar, and it's the only altar that I will ever worship before.
I think that sometimes in this baby loss netherworld- this place where mothers and fathers inhabit the world with one foot in heaven- I must be very cautious in my remembering.
My child is not a god.
And I do not think that she should be worshiped as such-
I am Christian, and I only worship one being.
And that's not my child.
This is the point where I must be clear, and I must separate myself from the mysticism that seems to run rampant throughout the baby loss "community"- and in saying that, I get that some people are are mystics. And I have to say again- this is directed inward, towards me- not them.
I think that it's a beautiful thing to have a special place in my home to keep my Beatrix's memory box, her sweet blankets and the mold of her foot. I see it as no different than the photos I have of my mother, and the quilt that my great-grandmother made.
But an altar?
An altar, by its purest and most correct definition is a place where sacrifices happen.
Where worship takes place.
I think that I must guard my heart, in this instance.
The tendency to fetishize my child is strong.
I would like nothing more than to believe that she speaks to me from beyond the grave, or that I can depend on her for some otherworldly guidance. But the truth is, she doesn't and I can't.
The truth is that she is in Paradise, and I am here, and that my soul longs for what she is already experiencing.
And that she has absolutely no longing for what I am experiencing.
It seems harsh on its face- a brutal statement for the tender heart- but it means so much more.
My daughter would not want me to have an altar dedicated to her- because she is where she is. She is already touching the hand of the Christ who was there at the beginning of the universe- and if she wants anything for me, it is that I join her there. That I don't let anything come between myself and the God who holds her so gently in the palm of His hand.
If she wants anything she wants me to remember with the understanding that she has already received her reward.
That even if my longing for the second chapter of my life to begin is, in part, because I miss her and I want to see her once again- that isn't the focus of my eternity.
This isn't something to think lightly about.
It's an opportunity to reexamine my own convictions and see where I can falter in my own thoughts and actions.
Many may see this as dogmatic, and as a judgement, but I'll be clear again- this is my confession.
The altar in my minds eye is an altar dedicated solely to the Savior who took my sins onto Himself and who redeemed me- and my child- ensuring that while we can not be here together, one day we will be.