The Holiday season. A time of celebration, gifts, parties, happiness, lights, decorations, jubilation. Well, not quite for everyone, and especially for some of my close friends and associates.
Grief by Gwen Flowers
“Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself-
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.”
It started on December 23rd when the son of one of my clergy associates died in an automobile accident. He was 42 and he died on his birthday. He was an only child.
On January 1st, amidst all the football games, Heather, the daughter of our Council member Jerry Davis, died at age 43. Many of you have followed her five-year journey in a battle to conquer colon cancer. Some might say she lost that battle. I believe she won the hearts of all of us with her open and honest sharing of her journey. Through her we were there with her. We cried with her. We laughed with her. We prayed for her. She might have lost her body to the dust, but her heart and soul will live on in many forever. She inspired everyone she met. She was a brave warrior to the very end of her bodily strength. I believe God will use her spirit to continue to touch the souls of those of us left here on earth. I believe that.
HOPE by Heather Davis Johnson (From a talk Heather delivered to the staff of the Kimmel Cancer Center on the importance of hope.)
“Life is to be enjoyed NOW.
Tomorrow will wait.
Each day is a celebration.
Each day is chance to get a running jump
before hitting the slip and slide,
a chance to jump in the leaves,
a chance to roll down a hill,
a chance to dance in the rain,
a chance to take in all of the small things…
a chance to recognize the big things.
We don’t wait “until” whatever to live.
Living happens now.
Hope happens NOW!”
Epiphany, January 6th, which celebrates the light of God shining in all of us, the Christian Education Director at St. Peter’s church in Lewes, died of a blood clot to her heart at age 59. They tried heroically to save her, but couldn’t. She was one of those people we call “beloved,” because the love they shared with us touched us deeply. I didn’t know her, but the grief and testimony of those who did touched me.
My prayer is that all three of them will rest in the peace of God. That the comfort of God will dwell in the hearts of those left behind to cry and mourn and grieve.
My prayer will be that each of us, as we enter this year of 2016, will have an alteration of our self, find a new way of seeing life, and a new definition of ourselves. That in spite of the specter of death in our lives, whether that be an actual death of someone we love, or the death of dear pet, or the death of a marriage, or a dream, or a wish, we will always, always hold onto a kernel of hope. Hope for living and enjoying life that God has planted in our heart. Heather held onto that hope.
My prayer is that we will live the coming year with love, and joy, and a spirit of kindness to ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our enemies, and the stranger we do not know. For as it says in my Christian scriptures (Hebrews 13:2):
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
And we all know and love angels, right?