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Subterranean Grief

Guest post by Karly Alexandra Smith, my niece, whose thoughts and poetry always give me pause. She can say a lot in few words.

the longings below

I tilled my soul today.

Up came stones and hard, dark earth —

a difficult sight for my hopeful hands.

This is good soil for grace.

Mornings, or evenings, long drives or quiet walks — these can be excavations, journeys to the center of our earthen minds. One morning this week I tilled, and the hard and difficult desires and hopes came bubbling up from that shadowy soil.

It is easier at some moments to speak of grief over the death of a beloved one. Death is obvious, unquestionably difficult. But there are other deaths, other losses apart from physical death that hide beneath our frustration, our anger, our loneliness, our fear. They scratch at us, begging to be uncovered and tended — to be grieved.

I find that waiting often creates room for such grief — it is a blade that cuts through our comfort and turns up pebbles of fear, seeds of longing, coins of hope, stones of idols, fragments of porcelain dreams. Some are sins to repent. Some are good longings unfulfilled. Once I can see them, name them, hold them gently, I can hand them to the Shepherd of my soul, and share the burden of them with the body of Christ.

In this season, I haven’t been able to shake Psalm 27—I eat the words each morning, hungry for their sweet hope. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14.

Tilled and tilling, I am waiting for the Sower to plant what grace is next in his garden plan for my weary soul.

Karly Alexandra Smith is a lover of letters: reading and writing them. She writes, makes art, and teaches (subjects ranging anywhere from writing, design thinking, and the Bible). She invites you to join her in her little blue room. Find more of her writing at

Sketch: from "The Sower" by Vincent van Gogh.

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