I began taking notes for this week’s reflection with the intent of writing a recap of the week as a way of informing many who are following and supporting me on my journey to ordained ministry. Yet, it has become a reflection on death, dying, and how I tend to respond in my spirit during such seasons and circumstances.
As I attended one funeral on this past Sunday I was also preparing my heart and mind to lead music for another later in the week. As I participated in that funeral on Friday I began to hear words of heartache as came to fruition just this evening as my sister-in-law’s mother has now passed away. These three are not the only ones who have come to meet the end of a physically engaging presence in this world this week. Many, from those in the news to those who have not been discovered yet, are no longer breathing in and out in homes and on streets. Those of us who remain are here to respond (with or without action) in some way.
Death comes and while we all know it is coming, carrying uncertainty of when and under what circumstances, and the distance often leaves us setting the idea out of sight and out of mind. When it comes, I imagine the difficulty of considering what life relationships will be a peace or left hanging on by a thread (and every relationship in between). Each connection will be broken in more ways than one.
I sometimes wonder if I have a morbid sense of feeling and understanding around death as I am not often one to become deeply and emotionally invested when I hear of someone’s death. I recall my emotional state of being when I heard of my Godmother’s death and even as a younger person did not get overwhelmed with tears of sadness. Angry, yes. Surprise, yes. But saddened to a point of tears? Not that I can recall. When I have tears amidst services that celebrate someone’s life it is the connection with the grief-stricken that touches me. It is that connection with the love in the moments of remembrance that touches me. The storytelling and in reality a sense of joy that overwhelms me into tears are the love that was shared at the moment. I also break down into tears when I come to know and be in a relationship with those who do not have that joy in remembrance amidst their loss. I feel for them and want for them to have even the painful sadness out of acknowledging that in remembering the joyful times it is a remembrance that shows how deeply they were loved by the one who is lost. I know the healing sense of leaning on such good and hope for them to know this too.
I often think that my more distant and non-emotional side amidst the news of death will serve me well in future pastoral ministry. To be able to think from a calm state of being and centeredness amidst the uncertainty of death and dying I suspect is a spiritual gift of sorts. That said, knowing that I still will want and anticipate connecting with others in the time beyond death, knowing that I will grow in tears the more I grow in relationship in-the-moment, I expect to need to keep a healthy balance as a pastor. I need to seek my own sources of comfort as I prepare and return from comforting others. I can’t take on everyone else’s pain, but I can open myself to it and feel it with an assurance that God is present to help me be the pastor, caring, and loving person I need to be for their sake.
Go be the light of Christ to someone experiencing loss. We are all gifted in our own unique way to be present with others. #Prayers #Presence #Gifts #Service #Witness