MY JOURNEY TO THE WAY- PART 4 – more hope

Father Timothy said he will interested in my thoughts about Lent.  The saturation and poetry of the scripture readings went straight to my soul where they steeped in the deep waters of my being.  I had never experienced Easter in that way before.  It was a journey with Christ from Lazarus  to the Resurrection in Holy Week.  I loved it!

An act of love I will also never forget was that of Nadine sharing her umbrella with me, holding it more over my head than hers so that she got rained on and I did not.  I felt so bad, but she insisted.  I was unworthy of such an act and so receiving that gift was extremely difficult.

The fast itself was difficult at times as well.  Part of it was that I still have yet to grasp the significance of it.  I am willing to learn.

My favorite part of Holy Week was the Friday service where the Lamentations were read.  You know that author who actually puts into words the thoughts in your mind?  This is Lamentations for me.  It is full of the echos of my soul.  I absolutely loved it!  It included Lamentations in the Bible but also had the journey of Christ to the Cross, to Hades to the Resurrection in beautiful language.

There was something special about the Lazarus story that struck my soul. Jesus called to Lazarus  after he was in the grave for 4 days.  Lazarus was indeed dead. No doubt about it.  When they removed the stone, the smell of rotting flesh must have escaped the tomb. There were people standing outside the tomb, as the icon depicts, with their hands over their nose, not in wonder, but because of the smell.  That is reality.

But what strikes me is that Lazarus had nothing to do with Jesus calling His name.  He did not ask for that to happen.  He was helpless to respond. He was dead. He did not want to respond, but neither could he refuse to respond.  He was dead.

The same principle is shown in the story about the 4 friends who let down their sick friend through the roof to the room where Jesus  was.  The story says nothing about the sick man’s desires, condition or status.  It says nothing about his morals or his righteousness.  What it does talk about is the concern and action of his 4 friends.

There is hope, therefore, for the one who has strayed from following Jesus, and cannot even see that they are dead in their sins.  They may be blind in the darkness in which they are walking and may not even have a desire to change.  Worse, they may have deceived themselves and really believe that God would have them happy in the lifestyle they have chosen.

The hope is that the prayers and faith of the ones who love them may be effectual and may avail much.  God may have mercy, give sight to the blind and cause their spiritual awakening and salvation.  This is the hope for every parent who grieves over a lost child. The hope for every lost or wayward soul who is loved by one who knows God.

“Memories…light the corners of my mind.”

I lost my little girl when she was 2 and a half years old.  It devastated me, but it also taught me never to take people for granted.  Even now, when my grown children leave, I assure them that I love them.  It could be the last time I see them.  How precious my parents are to me!  How I wish I could spend more time with my brother and my sisters!  And now there are my precious grandchildren that I miss so much when I am not with them.

I remember vividly when we dropped my oldest son off at college far away.  He walked away from the car after saying good-bye, and I lost it.  He didn’t see it or know it, but I cried for the next two hours.  I lost him forever that day.  Life was never the same, and to this day, I still miss him so much that my heart aches when I think of him.  He was and still is my pride and joy.

Dropping off my daughter at college tore me up as well.  I always felt like she was my own heart walking around outside of me, and when I had to say good-bye to her in less than ideal and possibly unsafe conditions…well…I learned again to let go and trust in God for her safety.  But, a huge hole was left in my life.  Everyday, I miss her.

I am forever grateful that the memories they left behind were wonderful ones.  Danny and I loved to laugh together.  He loved to sing and seek the truth about things.  He still does.  Amie amazed me so many times with her boldness and bravery when I knew that inside she was just a scared little girl.  She let nothing stop her. She was always the leader, the captain of her little army (her brothers and sisters), the risk taker, and the seeker of new adventures.

What precious memories I have to keep me company!  They are like gifts I will have forever.  Forever I will have the memories my little Susie left me when she died, gifts of hugs and kisses, memories of the way she talked and the things she did.

I hope that when I die I will leave good memories to the people I love.  I really hope they don’t remember my bad moments.  I would like them to remember that I was kind, loving, and patient.  I want them to remember that above all I loved God and lived for Him.

After Susie died, her grandparents out of their love for her, latched onto her sister Amie.  We had moved about 3 or 4 hours away at the time, and they would make a point of visiting on Amie’s birthday.  They would take us all out to eat at a pizza place and shower her with gifts.    I remember though, that Amie did not care about the gifts.  She loved being with her grandma and grandpa and ignored the presents.  One birthday, when they finally said good-bye and walked out into the night, Amie cupped her face to the window and watched them drive away until way after she could no longer see them.  Then she walked to the couch, and picked up her stack of boxed presents and carried them around the house until bedtime.

How that incident spoke to me!  Those gifts were all she had left of her grandparents and memories are all I have left of Susie.  But what of the memories I leave?  What kind of presents will my loved ones open after I am gone?  I don’t want to leave gifts that stink of grouchiness, moodiness, anger, selfishness, or neglect.  I don’t want to leave dark miserable gifts of dishonesty, hypocrisy or regrets. When my children and loved ones open the gifts I will leave, I hope they find the beauty of a life filled with God’s grace that spreads to others.  And I hope that the memories of God’s faithfulness to me will carry them through the rest of their lives.  These are the gifts I want to leave with them. These are the memories I want to light their way.