Living in the gap

Natasha Moore ponders the importance of lament in the time of coronavirus.



Natasha Moore ponders the importance of lament in the time of coronavirus.


NATASHA MOORE: I’m Natasha Moore, and I’m thinking out loud here.

So the last few days I’ve been reading a bit about lament. Lament is, among other things, a traditional religious practice – there’s loads of it in the Bible, for example – but lament isn’t something that many of us are fluent in, whether we’re religious or not. Lament is all about the gap. The gap between hope – how we think things are meant to be, up here – and reality, down here. Big gap. And we have different strategies for dealing with it. We can try to close it this way: we just work really, really hard to bring the reality closer to the line of how we think things should be. But the gap is so big. Or, we can lower our expectations: things are what they are, why expect them to be any better? We close the gap with cynicism.

Lament means standing in the gap, and fully acknowledging that it’s real, and that it sucks. If there’s a version of this happening right now, I think it might be journalists, and maybe especially photojournalists, who are doing it well for us – showing us the mass graves, the overloaded emergency departments around the world, the funerals with no touching and almost no mourners. Just pointing to the gap between the hope and the reality and saying “See. This, this is not ok.”

The beauty of lament as a Christian thing though is that it’s all about getting in God’s face about the gap; complaining to God. If God is real then he both affirms the hope line – that things aren’t meant to be like this – and he can make good our efforts to change the reality line. If he’s real, his is the face you want to get up in about the gap.

Lament is a crucial part of love in the time of coronavirus.