I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about death — don’t get me wrong, I’m not going off the deep end or depressed. No, quite the contrary.
This month has led me down this road. For one, if you have been close to the Cross Plains community, you have participated, in one way or another, in Adie’s decade long battle with cancer. She was a 50-some year old mother of two who didn’t just fight admirably, but lived bravely and faithfully before us all. Her death this month, in many ways, was a gift to Mt. Carmel and to this community. She reminded us all of the power of love and the hope and grace that should embody our faith. She died with grace, even as she had lived before us all. We were blessed.
In addition, May 16 marked the anniversary of Ethan’s passing. Last year our church filled with loved ones to remember the much too short life of a brave little soldier. I have thought much about his dear parents and sister this week as I prayed for them. Their lives have been forever changed through their struggle and loss. I was reminded this morning of something Henri Nowen said, “God tills the soil of your broken heart and nurtures it back to health.” I have seen God do just that in this family’s life. It hasn’t been easy, certainly not preferred, but God has been present all along the way.
Our community still grieves with both of these families, but also celebrates God’s presence even more now in the midst of our pain and loss.
Here are a few Nouwen quotes that challenge me:
- “The real question is: how can I live so that my death will be fruitful for others?”
- “This brief lifetime is my opportunity to receive love, deepen love, grow in love, and give love.”
- “God loved you before you were born, and God will love you after you die.”
- “Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us.”
May the Lord help us to accept death as part of our spiritual journey, not its end. What a wonderful gift!
Question: When death has raised its ugly head in your life, what have you learned? What has given you peace and strength?