prayers for the departed...

My mother-in-law, Shirley, passed from this life to life everlasting last night at about 3:00 am. She had suffered a series of strokes over the past few weeks beginning on Easter Sunday. For the last three days she has been beyond regular communication - and now she is gone.

The people in my congregation - and the wider Facebook community - have been beautiful, tender and loving. Many are pastors - many others are friends I have made in ministry over the years - and they know that there is nothing that we can say that takes away the emptiness or pain. Death is almost always shitty... but we can own that and still connect... because the connections matter.


I was stunned when my own mother died three years ago - and my sister and nephew 15 years before that - how much cards and quiet embraces meant to me. I thought I was a "sensitive, new aged guy" who was in touch with my feelings - and in many ways I was - but the cards, notes and hugs of others touched me deeper than I can ever express. They didn't take away the hurt, but they made it a little lighter. How does that hymn put it? "I will bare the Christ light for you in the shadow of your tears, I will hold my hand out to you speak the peace you long to hear."

All day I was in a kind of fog: Dianne is five hours away and I am going through the motions of my everyday work. Harvey Cox notes in Common Prayers that there is something real and healing and essential about the Jewish practice of sitting shiva after a death. Taken from the Hebrew number seven, this practice grounds us in mourning and marking our loss. We Christians need to find a way to make something similar our own because we shouldn't try to fake it in times like this. Sure, there is business to take care of but there are also souls to caress and care for, too.


I will leave to be with my wife tomorrow after completing a graveside service here. Tonight there's laundry and Chinese food to deal with. So come on, Joni, sing to me now: I need your magic...

Comments

RJ said…
Hey Luke... I've been thinking of the blessing of your sweet Elizabeth Eve. Thanks for the simple word... it is a blessing.
BE said…
You all remain in our prayers.
~ Anna G ~ said…
You are all in prayers in Ohio. I have been listening to "Both Sides Now" in the hardest times of my life, and I hope that Joni brings you the comfort that she has often brought me.

Blessings

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