Pastoral Ponderings— Failure and Loss
I lost my bees. All of them. Last week when I checked, they seemed good, this week, bees and honey all gone. In my inexperience as a newbie, I likely missed the mites and disease they carry which led to my “colony collapse.” I have failed as a bee-keeper.
Darling Wife, the Rev. Karol recently told me she ran across a church that celebrates failure. Not really failures themselves, but what the failures represent—if you don’t have regular failures, that means you’re not trying anything new, because not everything succeeds. This truth applies whether in your personal life, or in our lives together as a church—no failure means no new efforts, means we’re only embracing a stagnant past, not embracing a transformative Gospel of Hope.
My experience with my bees was not only a failure, but a loss, a loss of something I was committed to, invested into, that was at least a piece of who I am. Isn’t that true with any loss, whether a loss of a church or treasured friend, a loss of a loved one, a loss of a way of life? If failure is evidence of an investment in effort, perhaps in the same way, loss is evidence of a real investment in life and connections, in love. In the same way that no failure points to no real effort, no loss points to no meaningful love or connections.
So if we can celebrate failure because it shows we’re truly trying to make a difference, as much as we hate loss, we can also celebrate loss as it is the truest sign of real love. Now, I certainly can’t claim to have loved my bees in the same way as one loves a life-long friend, a parent, a spouse, a child, a church, or so many other defining connections we sometimes lose. But this relatively small loss is a good reminder to celebrate those truly powerful loves while we can. As Ecclesiastes reminds us, “there is a time for everything under the sun… a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” and never forget as that passage is drawing to a close, we are reminded too, that “he has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Odd as it seems, times of failure and loss can truly be times for celebration. Celebrate those loves that define us while we can, remembering the beauty they bring in their own time—and then entrusting those loves to God when their time has come. Keep loving, though it means we will keep facing loss, keep blessing, though it means we will continue to find failure along the way. He who is the God of all our loves, is also the God who holds us in all our losses.