So different, so similar

Yesterday is the scheduled time for lectionary reading and first responses. Life happens and I found myself a part of two death circumstances. One the final preparation for a funeral today of a beloved elderly member of the parish whose has been absent for the past several years. She has been in very poor health in that time; her death was not a surprise, and has an aspect of relief. The other was the sudden unexpected violent death of a young man whom everyone described a delightful, full of life, full of promise, trusting, and never a bad word to say. His death is full of surprise, shock, leaving folk spinning for answers, in some cases to questions still unknown.  I cannot imagine two death experiences more different.

 At the end of the day, picking at a late dinner, mindless sitting through a late evening mystery I began to realize as different as these deaths are, they are similar. Whether with some expectation or rude shock we are challenged by the unknowable mystery of what lies beyond death’s door. As I fumbled through ministering to both sets of mourners I realized my role is much the same – that is to journey with, perhaps as Urban Holmes’ concept of priest as shaman, or as a thin manifestation of the Spirit as Advocate, one who stands with. It’s a role of speaking the truth, “Our beloved is dead.” of pointing away from unhelpful speculations, of pointing to unshakable, though incomprehensible (passing all understanding), truth: the strength and peace of God’s love. Moreover I realized all this is best accomplished by “just showing up.” [1]

 The Dawn has come, and gone; it’s time to show up once again; trusting not in my own limited gifts, rather in God’s mysterious presence.

[1] Woody Allen


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