Holding Out Hope

Rev Dr Lisa Presley Nov 2021

Rev. Dr. Lisa Presley


"Grieving has been turned into coping and getting back to “normal,” and this is where John Schneider says we have it wrong. John was a psychologist and a member of our UU congregation in Traverse City, Michigan. He specialized in grief and grieving. For him, this emphasis on coping is all about getting back to where we were, rather than the more appropriate task of finding a way to reach beyond, to move into something different, and to find transformation through the process. For John, grief was not only about coping, but also about hope, and the power of hope to transform our grief and loss and love into something that can help us move into a future made different by that loss."


From A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so un-interesting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called “resources.” People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this “common-sense” vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.

On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it—that disgusts me. And even while I’m doing it I know it leads me to misrepresent H. herself. Give that mood its head and in a few minutes I shall have substituted for the real woman a mere doll to be blubbered over. Thank God the memory of her is still too strong (will it always be too strong?) to let me get away with it.

Suggestions for Order of Service

Opening Words

Singing the Living Tradition

  • #447
  • #448
  • #449


(in the attached script, from CS Lewis)

Other Reading Options

Singing the Living Tradition

  • 718 – All Souls, by May Sarton
  • 721 – They are With Us Still – Kathleen McTigue

Closing Words

SLT - #688, #698, #700


Singing the Living Tradition:

  • 6 – Just as Long as I Have Breath
  • 17 – Every Night and Every Morn (quoted in the sermon)
  • 83 – Winds Be Still
  • 90 – From All the Fred and Fever of the Day
  • 95 – There Is More Love Somewhere
  • 101 – Abide with Me
  • 123 – Spirit of Life

About the Author

Lisa Presley

Lisa Presley is a life-long Unitarian Universalist who was an active lay leader before entering our ministry in 1991. As a lay leader she was board president, board member, worship associate, stewardship campaign chair, religious education teacher, bookkeeper, secretary, and shoveled the snow as...

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