Monday, April 24, 2006

John 11:35

To say that we had a busy weekend is just a fraction of the story. The past three days were brimming with life, new beginnings, and hope. But endings, sorrow and death also left their imprint.

On Friday, I attended the funeral of a young man. His father is an old friend of mine from my days on the RCIA team. We met the year R. (the father) was coming into the Church. He is a kind, quiet, generous man who always seems to accept God's will for his life, even when it is painful, incomprehensible and completely unexpected, as in the case of his son's death. We don't know yet how this happy, healthy, well-loved young man died. What we do know is that it could happen to any of us at any moment. My own sudden death, or the sudden death of a child, could be imminent. Am I prepared? It is the most unthinkable of endings, to lose a child. And yet R. has been asked to carry this immensely heavy cross and I know that it's his faith that will sustain him through his tears and his grief.

Saturday was a mixture of beginnings and endings. Betsy had her first soccer game and reveled in every bit of it. Each race and kick, the wind in her hair, the happy exhaustion, being part of a team ... it was all pure Betsy.

Then, immediately after the soccer game (we raced home, she jumped in the tub, donned a dress and we were off) was the piano recital. The girls played a short duet and then each played a piece they'd mastered. We were proud and happy for them. Their piano teacher is a lovely homeschooling mom. My girls are great friends with this mom's kids, and have been for several years. The bittersweet quality of that afternoon was due not only to the end of a year of lessons, but to the end of a relationship. The family will be moving in a month or two, and our weekly lessons and play times will come to an end. The kids spent the rest of the day together, but in my mind, the day was marked by the knowledge these people, so beloved by my children, will soon be gone.

Sunday was joyful, as we witnessed the first Holy Communion of J., one of the sweetest eight-year-old boys one could ever hope to meet. We celebrated with his family, dear friends. I was energized by J.'s infectious enthusiasm, as he was brimming with the thrill and excitement of this holy and special day. And I thought, again, of the ways in which beginnings and endings, life and death, crucifixion and resurrection are intertwined and dependent on one another.

Without the beginning of the crucifixion, we would not have the ending of the Resurrection, which is, of course, also a beginning. It is a great, holy circle.

When a friend moves away, a lesson ends, a life changes, a loved one passes, we grieve that ending, as we should. But, in the midst of our grief, God will open new doors. He will show us something -- not always immediately, but eventually, if we are paying attention -- He will help us to see that it's only in earthly endings that heavenly beginnings have their meaning. Everything here is meant to pass away. That's why the crucifixion can be called, even more appropriately than an ending, a beginning. It was the beginning of that which gives all things their meaning.

Viewed through the lens of eternity, I can grieve our endings, and weep, just as Jesus did at Lazarus's tomb, but I can also see them for what they are ... another way of beginning. And with God's help, and if it is His will, every beginning, ending, and everything in between, will draw us closer to Him.


Alice said...

>>And I thought, again, of the ways in which beginnings >>and endings, life and death, crucifixion and >>resurrection are intertwined and dependent on one >>another.

This is one of the most moving and meaningful posts ever. Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing these thoughts and reflections with us.

I'll be praying for that young man and the family moving away and for all of you as you experience that beautiful bittersweet holy circle.

Karen E. said...

Alice, many, many thanks for your kind comments, and thank you for your prayers.