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Posts Tagged ‘Mourning’

  

Life carries on …

This was the prevailing thought as I left work today, heavy with the weight of grief in a world that does not cease to spin for anything or anyone.

A colleague for much of the past thirteen years died, after a brief battle with cancer. Though she has been missing from our hallowed halls since before the Christmas break, the finality of death leaves a unexpected shock in its wake. 

We went to sleep last night knowing that our friend and co-worker was experiencing an other-worldly peace that passes understanding, and we awoke today to the everyday battles of work in a high school. 

It wasn’t until the end of the day, when her family were prayed for at a staff meeting, that many of us realized that we had not yet begun to mourn.

And we mourn.

And we know that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

Late last August our staff reunited and dreamed of a new school year, none of us aware that one would cease to breathe life’s sweet breath before June’s final bell rang.

And so we grieve the death of our friend and colleague, we grieve for her family, but we also mourn for ourselves, as our knowledge in the fragility of life has been flashed before our eyes. We are not guaranteed four score and ten. We are only given right now. 

On her “about” page on her blog (nodroppedstitches)she shared who she knew she was:

“I am the creation spoken about in Psalm 139:13 – 16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)

Our friend was not expected to live, from the moment she was born. Her health was fragile throughout her life, yet she lived to experience so much of what one might dream for … friendships, marriage, children, grandchildren, further education even up to a year ago and gardening through it all. Doctors through the years had hypothesized her end numerous times … but her days were written before her first breath, by the One who breathed life into her.

As is the same for each one of us.

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Earlier this week, I wrote about our human need, as souls encased in skin and bones, of the practice of lament. To lament is to be real with our circumstances, and our God. It is to acknowledge our frailty.

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

As the Psalmist indicates clearly, mourning is not without end. That is the hope of night, that the darkness that accompanies our lamenting, does eventually give way to the dawn of morning.

Right now I can think of a number of people who are in the midst of a time of lamenting, of mourning, and they cannot even dream of rejoicing or of a bright morning.

  • the family, mourning the loss of their child, gone too soon
  • the husband, holding the hand of his preschooler in one hand, and that of his dying wife, in his other
  • the woman whose husband has abandoned both she and their daughter, as well as been challenged by health problems and inability to work

Yet, that morning is coming. We do not know when it will come, but come it will.

As the third chapter of Ecclesiastes (v.4) reminds us there is:

“a time to weep and a time to laugh
a time to mourn and a time to dance”

I remember a night. I remember that darkness was everywhere … every where. I remember that everything, from the smallest things, were falling, failing. I remember standing in my backyard, sun’s beams pouring through the branches of the trees in front and above me. I remember crying, praying, begging for relief, just one sunbeam of hope to fall upon me. Then, moments later, as I set myself back to my yard work, I caught my leg on a nail, ripping my pants, my flesh … blood falling from me, releasing my tears, yet again. There was no quick relief, there was no quick end to my lament.

My hope was that “joy would come in the morning” …

We need to remember that the passing of night to day is not the same as with God. The lamenting will end, but we do not know when that will be. The God who divided day from night, will bring an end to mourning.

“There never was night that had no morn.”
Dinah Mulock Craik

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In the early morning quiet I am the only one under our roof who is awake.

I sit with the laptop warming my knees and hear the various songs of the dawns chorus by the early birds that says good morning to me. This is my favorite time of day.

The sky lightens with every minutes passing, the shadows appear and become more distinct, then fade as the light takes over the places of shadows.

My beast greats me each morning at the door of my bedroom with one joyous, hope-filled open eye staring up, communicating, “can I pee now?” When I open the door for her, I am greeted with the gift of fresh, crisp, clean air. My lungs inhale it’s newness with no conscious thought from me.

As I take in that first breath of morning air I sense that now I am awake, now I am alive from the inside out.

I smell the dampness in the air that the morning dew creates, I smell the creation that is green and purple, and blue and red and yellow… the flowers of my garden. I see the creation that is green and purple and blue and red and yellow … the flowers of His garden.

It is here, each and every morning that I step out onto the deck that I am confronted with His garden, His creation, His abilities, His greatness. It is here, each and every morning that all that He has created reminds me that He also created me. That He is bigger than me. That He can make beauty from dirt from nothing. It is here that I am reminded that, if I hand my problems, my struggles, my heartaches and my to do list over to Him, He will make beauty from my dirt, from nothing. He reminds me that if I take the whole of my life, even my body, and there in the alter of His garden, lay it all out for Him to do as He wills, as an act of sacrifice, He will take it, He will redeem the life I have, and make it something better than I ever could … something new.

Then I inhale a new scent, and I look down to see my beast, content that her ‘job’ is done, ready to move on to the intake of food. And I am reminded that signs of life are not always sweet. Sometimes signs of life are truly crappy. Sometimes signs of life are downright shitty.

Death can be one of those sour signs of life. Or illness, or pain, or stress, or struggle, or disappointment, or bills, or divorce, or a failed test, or broken trust. We feel the weight that those signs of life, through no conscious choice of our own to feel them. As we take in those sour signs of life we sense that we are awake, that we are alive from the inside out. Sometimes these more sour events and seasons in our lives make us feel alive … and wish it were not so.

They are indeed signs of life. And they remind us that life is not just the life we have here, now, today, but that there is a life beyond all time and space. A life where every breath is like that first morning uncontrolled inhaling of fresh created air. A life where we will not just have the created to woo us awake, and to marvel at with all of our sense, but also the Creator who will turn our mourning into dancing.

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Yesterday I wrote about a story from the Bible where Jesus touched a dead man, but that was not the only significant part of that story.

Luke 7:11-13
Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.””

In this story of Jesus meeting up with a funeral procession, Jesus said to the mother, “don’t cry.”

It is so easy to simply focus on just those two words, but, there is more revealed in the story to give us understanding of what Jesus was thinking when he said those words.

Verse 13 says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.””

Jesus was all God, all man. He could laugh, and cry. He could celebrate, and mourn (after all this was not the only person who Jesus raised from the dead. When he heard of Lazarus’ death, he wept, then raised a four-days dead man!). Jesus humanly understood the sorrow that the young man’s mother was suffering, and her suffering tugged at his human heart … as well as at his divine being. Maybe he not only saw, but also felt the heartache that the mother was feeling (Romans 12:15 “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”).

As ‘his heart went out to her,’ Jesus saw the heartbreak, the agony, the loss, and the hopelessness in the countenance of the widowed mother of a dead young man. Her son that was to be her only hope for a future in that society.

Jesus also knew that he, a son, was the only hope of a future for us. Perhaps the mourning that Jesus saw in that woman was a foreshadowing of what Jesus, the Son of God, would experience when he would be separated by death, from his Father.

Then he said, “young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (v. 14-16)

And, as the people were all in awe that “God has come to help his people,” those same people knew nothing of the sorrow that He would bare in order to help them, in the very near future. But, He knew.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Anyone who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.
And those who live and believe in Me will never die.
Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

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