Monday, April 17, 2006

Mourning


There seems to be an unspoken social rule amongst many Christians that we should put off mourning for our believing loved ones who leave this earth; that we should only rejoice that they have gone on to be in the arms of the Father. While I agree that it is a joyous occasion for a Christian to be united with our Lord, I cannot stop myself from shedding tears and I will not act as though all is well, for I believe there is reason to mourn.

Already, in the youth of this new year, I have had to say goodbye to two incredible women of faith. I have mourned for them both.

Blanch Balsbaugh died with over 90 years behind her. For 24 of those years she has been a grandmother to me: an always dear part of my life. The memories of childhood mingle together with my more recent memories of her, and they are all interlaced with the knowledge of her love for us. Her whole joy was tied together in the Lord and the family he had blessed her with; she showed that joy by constant devotion.
She was a part of my life from before I was born. She was always there. I cried for my grandmother because her passing has left a whole in my life. Her's was the home I could always go to for comfort, peace, and a retreat from whatever problems or cares I was facing in the world outside. Hers was the chair by which I could sit: knowing that my words (or my silence) would be accepted and treasured. Her life affected me in ways I will never know, for I am a part of her; a descendant of this great lady.
No longer will I make the 30 minute drive I know so well just to sit by her chair. No longer will I hear the endearing words of love from her. No one will ever be able to encourage or comfort like grandma could. I will miss her presence in my life perhaps more than any loss I have ever known. For this I mourn.

Agnes Ferngren left this world last month after battling cancer. She was 67. We had only attended the same church for about 2 years and as I sat in her memorial service, another type of mourning hit me which I had not experienced before. I looked around at the nearly-packed sanctuary. I listened to those who had known her well and to her eulogy: both a tribute to the life she lived.
I had not known the depth of this woman's life. I cried for Agnes because I knew I wouldn't have the chance to be further touched by her graciousness. I mourned because I saw what a beautiful presence her life was and I knew that the earth no longer felt the warmth it put forth. I felt regret at all the lessons I could have learned from her, had only I known her more.

Of course, my love for both of these souls causes me to rejoice for them: for the suffering they no longer feel and the joy that is now complete as they abide with the Lord. But in my sadness I am forced to be drawn back to the earth. As I mourn, I realize the chance I am given to reflect those beautiful traits back to others. The impact of those who are now gone can remain in my life as I mirror what I loved about them. The tenderness with which my grandmother held my newborn son; the patience with with she interacted with my toddler; the love she showed to anyone who crossed her path. It was said of her that "There was no one Grandma didn't like; but even if she didn't like you, you'd never know." The love she showed was sincere for she loved everyone as a child of God.

In my sadness I also look around to see the lives which are still here. We are surrounded by men and women every day. Instead of skimming the surface of their lives with small talk, I am encouraged to draw from the well of their experience, seeking the wisdom God has given them throughout their journey before it is too late.

Weep on, dear soul, when lives such as these are taken from the earth. When you say goodbye to the brilliance of their hearts.
Weep on, dear soul, as you loose the chance to bask in the rays of a saint's wisdom; as you fill your days with frivolity instead of friendships.
Weep on, dear soul, when their living example is taken, leaving us behind only to grasp to hold on to our memories of their character: the character we so desire to have.
Yes, weep on; but when your weeping is done, rejoice that you have been given another day: another day to mirror to others what they mirrored to you. Rejoice that you have been given another day...another day to show God's love.



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2 comments:

Jeff said...

I just found your blog, and I enjoy your posts.

Regarding grief and pain, one Scripture that has comforted me recently is Rev. 21:1-5. Specifically, v4-5a: and He will wipe away every tear from their eye; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new..." To think that the God of heaven will wipe my tears and remove my pain is an overwhelming thought.

Jodi said...

Oh how true! How sweet that day will be when there will truely be no more weeping. We only feel a small amount of His comfort compared to our future hope!