I am the cowardly lion friends!
Growing up I never experienced much death. I don’t remember attending a funeral with my parents. I do remember others getting out of school for a grandparent or another family member’s funeral. I remember thinking I was fortunate to still have my grandparents etc in my life.
Then that all changed. My dad’s dear friend lost his wife. My good friend lost her mother. I remember walking into that sanctuary with my family. I remember feeling many raw emotions. My friend’s mom was so good to my mom; a dear friend who was always there for us and none she was gone. And like my friend I had many questions; What happened? Why did she die?
After that experience it was several years before I experienced someone in my life dying. This time it was my grandfather. I remember driving hours and many miles so my mom and I would be at the funeral. I remember seeing Grandpa laying so still in that casket. I remember crying and grieving the loss of this dear person in my life. I remember at the cemetery laying the urn next to his own mom and dad!
Almost five years ago, my best friend was laid to rest. I remember picking up my phone and hearing the words from her mom. I miss her every day. And then about three years later we laid Grandma to rest as well. And then over the last couple of years my cousin has had to lay her little children to rest as well.
In January of 2010, I wept and mourned as I heard about the Haiti earthquake. My friend Renee was there with her husband and her husbands cousin. And soon we learned that Renee’s husband Ben had lost his life. A life cut way too short. I found myself grieving for Renee but also grieving for the losses she would experience because of Bens death.
My heart aches…aches for all those relationships that have been lost. Yet I am reminded of the words to Psalm 30 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!”
These beautiful saints are blessings in our lives and I am glad that God placed them in my life. I’m thankful for all that they taught me. And so today I say thank you for these saints in my life; these saints who now from their labors rest; Renee, Sam, Bess, Maia, Jack, Arlys, Mandy, Shan, Ben, Reinie, and so many others.
These saints have made a difference in my life. And there are so many still here who have made a difference too. So as another bloggy friend suggested, ” Who are you going to let know that they have been a blessing in your life?”
We celebrate All Saints Sunday on Sunday. On that day we remember all the saints that have passed away over the past year. However there are saints in our life who have already gone before us and those who are still among us. One of my favorite seminary professors posted a quote this morning on his FaceBook account from Frederick Buechner’s book “Now and Then.” (I haven’t read that book yet so I had to ask the professor which of Buechner’s books it comes from. I will be reading this in the near future) The quote reads “More than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy, not happiness that comes & goes, but joy always there like an underground spring.”
I love the image that this quote conjures up. For me it immediately reminds me of my mama…this wonderful woman of God who has lived most of my life with a mental illness. She is one of the most gracious people I know. I am not saying that she never gets sad because she does. She misses my sister and I and wishes we could visit more. I wish we could too. She misses her parents who have passed away. She mourned the loss of her marriage and our family when her and my dad divorced. Yet even through all these trials, she, more often, than not exudes joy! At our recent synod gathering, we were talking about joy and happiness etc. I used my mom as an example. Pure joy was seeing her face when my sister and I walked into her room at the nursing home/assisted living facility. Joy in my mom is like that underground spring always ready to burst forth. May we too be more full of joy like that underground spring springing forth for all to see. Thank you mama for showing me what that underground spring looks like!
So I will close again with the words of Buechner,”More than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy, not happiness that comes & goes, but joy always there like an underground spring.”
Authenticity is something that I strive for every day. Every day I try to be completely and wholey who God created me to be. All admit that I screw up. I’m not perfect! I am definetely a Lutheran…simultaneously both saint and sinner. Recently at the ELCA National Youth Gathering, the youth heard some phenomenal speakers (at least in my opinion)! However there are many who were and have been concerned about these speakers. It makes me sad because I think our youth (and even our adults) need to hear these stories. Yes, Pastor Nadia used to be big into drugs and alcohol BUT the truth is that by the grace of GOd and other believers, she has gotten out of the depths of those darknesses. I dont believe that her story teachs our youth that its ok to take drugs. I think it does quite the opposite; it teachs them what happens when you get into drugs and alcohol. My hope and prayer is that they take Nadia’s and all the speakers messages and makes a change in the world. I may be wrong..I may get to heaven one day and God may tell me something else…But what I do know is that Jesus was a radical. Jesus sat and ate with tax collectors, sinners and the outcasts!