The first is by Alison Morgan, priest and founder of the Rooted in Jesus resource materials being used extensively in African countries through her charity the Mathetes Trust. The second is by radio and television presenter and priest, Revd Richard Coles. Both, World Turned Upside Down: The Psalms and the spirituality of pain – Finding a way through (BRF 2023), and The Madness of Grief, (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2022) will resonate with those with sorrows to lament… and trust to cultivate.
Alison Morgan’s book is scholarly yet accessible and shows how even the psalmists had to learn how to trust God and keep faith with the process of life itself. No wonder the psalms have stood the test of thousands of years. Alison Morgan has found fresh ways of unpacking them for us and making the spine tingle at the thought that they were Jesus’ prayer treasure store.
Richard Coles’ partner David died just before Christmas in 2019. In the crazy state of bereavement he found himself in, he started writing and the exercise was cathartic in itself. For us, we have a raw yet so readable account of what happened before and after his loss which will strike a chord with anyone who has lost someone close to them. There are hilarious as well as tear-jerking moments along the way, not least dealing with five dachshunds when you are a half-time priest, full-on celebrity, with a Northamptonshire vicarage and a narrow boat to maintain!
I’d like to steer you towards many passages where Richard Coles explores why it feels no easier for Christians to cope with grief despite the hope of eternal life, but I leave you with just one taster:
‘Christians, like everyone else, need to grieve when they lose the ones they love. I have never been of the school that thinks our priesthood obliges us to offer business as usual, and bury our mothers and our husbands and our children dry-eyed and level voiced in the sure and certain hope. Some do, and good luck to them, but I could not, would not. I have no doubt in the mercy and generosity of God, nor in the promise of more to come, and wonderfully, but I needed other people to do the honours so that I could honour David with my grief.’