We sit as if behind a veil. We can only partially see in this life. With shadows and shapes playing across candlelit walls. We try the best we can to make sense of things that are hard to comprehend. We know we can be right at times in what we think we see, but never truly know the depth of it, or the shallowness we exhibit as we take those feelings and guard them in order to keep our pain at manageable levels.
Death is one of those things, one of the things my philosophy and theology say is actually not the order of this world, it is a perversion of what was meant to be, but yet it seems a law does it not? All that is alive will die, will pass away, so it seems.
But as we gaze at this veil, this dimly lit scene, it is when death comes that we catch a glimpse of things that we dare not hope for, yes the pain of it sometimes blinds us to the truth, but it is when we experience death that the veil is thinnest.
When we look around at this time, we see Truth. When a seed dies abundance follows. When a star dies, the heavens come to life. Yet when a loved one dies for some crazy reason we have a choice; to allow that death to haunt us eternal, or to allow it to turn into abundance.
And if we are vigilant, if at those moments of grief, we choose to meet that grief face to face, we can see beyond the veil. We can see why Saint Paul would write to the Thessalonians about the fact that we do not grieve as others do, but that we grieve with hope, as our loved ones “fall asleep”.
We must let the grief meet us like a wall, and we must not try to go around, over it or under. It will crush us if we do that. But we must let it teach us. That one day we will be on the other side of that wall, that veil, and we will see. Because it is then, it is at that point that we have truly honored the death of those we love, we have allowed their lives and their deaths to transform us into something a bit more like our true selves. And we see that what we hope for is life, and it is that life that is available for whoever truly wants it.
Many of you know my story, my brushes with death. Those in our family know many in our clan who have gone before, too many from cancer it seems. The latest being taken by another disease, Alzheimer’s. She lead a long life, and a great one, it was time. But every time one of us “falls asleep” I like to sit at the wall. To be patient with my feelings, with my grief. To let it flow over me and not to struggle against it, invite Jesus into it, to sit with me and show me how to grieve. To allow the Holy Spirit to draw to mind memories of the one I have lost, to remind me of their worth, their love, their examples of kindness, truth and compassion. I like to look for the traits in them that reflect Jesus, that shaped me and that I wish to take a hold of and move forward with, I believe it honors them, it helps them live on in this place. It also takes the best of their God given humanness and brings it into the next generation. I can take it with me.
As the Irish say, there are thin places where heaven and earth are extra close. In their thought process I think they are fixed places. But when I sat next to my Grandma and in her non responsiveness she was reaching up and moving her hands around. I think I was in a thin place, and I think she was moving the veil aside. As if to catch a glimpse; of her son who went before her, her granny who wants to tell her a story, and to chase her husband around for leaving her with eight children way too early in her life.
Go get’em Grandma.
I can almost hear him laughing. Together again beyond the veil.