As the world mourns an unspeakable, unthinkable tragic loss in Newtown, Connecticut, we reach out to one another to offer consolation. Tonight an interfaith service was held in Newtown and the President came and met personally with family members grieving lost loved ones. Here in Rhode Island, a collection of teddy bears was held and have already been brought to Connecticut.
Those who cannot visit the memorial shrines to light candles in person are lighting candles at gratefulness.org. There are 898 candles lit in the group “Newto” and over a 100 in the group “Ct”.
Wise spiritual leaders and ministers can hold our hands and offer solace in moments of inconsolable grief. Sri Chinmoy offers the following advice in how to feel consolation when God feels remote,
Pradhan: You say that when we are suffering we should try to feel the presence of the Supreme. But one of the reasons human beings suffer is that we feel separated from the Supreme. So where does one begin that effort?
Sri Chinmoy: If you cannot think of the Supreme, then think of your physical mother or any relative or friend of yours with whom you have established a connection over the years. Since you were a child, there is bound to be someone with whom you have established your oneness. When you are suffering, imagine that individual is standing right in front of you.
So if you can imagine the presence of the person who is closest to you in front of you, sympathising with you with utmost sincerity, then definitely you will feel less pain. It may be more than one person; there may be ten or twenty individuals standing in front of you and sympathising with your suffering.
If somebody dies in your family and a few relatives come and sincerely try to console you, if they share your sufferings, your sorrows and your loss, then you feel much better. Some may not be able to come physically, but still you can remember them and know that if they were physically present, they would show the same kind of consolation, the same kind of oneness.
-Sri Chinmoy, My Heart Shall Give A Oneness-Feast, Agni Press, 1993.
One unconventional method to provide grief counseling takes the form of an innocent four-legged animal – Comfort Dogs. I have seen the magic of therapy dogs in the library setting where children read to dogs and gain a deeper love of reading. Now the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities have traveled from Chicago to Newtown, Ct. to assist grief counselors in ministering to children and adults alike. Somehow it seems more than fitting to have innocent animals embodying unconditional love come to a place where so many innocent children lost their lives.
And as people around the world pray for Newtown, Ct., I contemplate these words from Sri Chinmoy:
There is no difference when we pray and meditate for others or when we pray and meditate for ourselves. If we have a wider outlook and larger vision, then no matter when we pray or where we pray or for whom we pray or meditate, it is all for ourselves. For all are part and parcel of our universal family.
-Sri Chinmoy, Flame Waves, Part 11, Agni Press, 1978.