Saving grace...

Another unexpected blessing/gift that I have experienced time and again after a death that is close to my heart is... a renewed sense of how important THIS moment is to me. That probably sounds trite - nothing novel or even wise about this - but it is true. These deaths open my heart and mind to a renewed commitment to sacramental living. Ed Hays, one of my long-time spiritual mentors, puts it like this in prayer:

Help us, Compassionate God,
to let Your ancient and eternal song of death and life be played out in each of us, as we live out our faith that death is but a doorway that opens unto a greater and fuller expression of life, that opens to a final union with You who are life! Blessed are You, Lord of Life, who alone knows the hour of our death and ultimate union with You. Blessed are You, Lord our God, whose messenger is death.

Maybe it is because I am so broken - or simply give thanks that God chooses to use one as broken as I am - but I find myself thinking/praying this song by Everlast. He is a total genre bender - mixing rap and acoustic music with some great rock - all tempered by his Irish rap thing and a spirituality grounded in grace:

We returned from New York today - traveling through the rain and mist - in separate cars because we were given a new/old vehicle after the memorial service. There was a kind of poetry to this journey - together and a part at the same time (which required stopping at a Best Buy to purchase a phone charger for the car so we could talk on speaker phone from time to time) - that was important. This death clearly means different things to us both - and while I am not yet sure what is coming to the surface for Di, for me it has pushed to the surface two insights:

1. More than ever my commitment to a ministry of presence may be the most important thing I have to share with folks. I KNOW I can't fix most hurts in life - but I can sit and share them - and listen with an open and tender heart. After experiencing once again how healing this has been for me, I have a revived commitment to this aspect of ministry.

2. So, too, my commitment to the arts and music: during Di's moma's memorial service, the time that was the most healing - and deep - was when we pulled together a rag tag jug band to sing Tom Waits' "Come on Up to the House." There was room for everyone in this song - even those who don't ordinarily sing jazz/rock/gospel songs. And the invitation of the song - and the experience of singing and playing together - brought us all to a new place through the grief. The arts can help us get to common ground - places we don't yet have words for - and I want to be a part of that feast. When we sang for Dianne's mother, Di's sister, Laurie, played mandolin; Di's brother in law, Mick, did percussion and guitar; my daughter, Jesse and Dianne, sang vocals (with me) and I played guitar and blues harp. And we we found a way to encourage ALL those mourners to sing from their core...

So... now we are home. Hallelujah. Tomorrow will be more sitting shiva and getting grounded in the reality of the loss - and discerning the blessings, too.\


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