Saturday, November 9, 2013

"All Shall be Well…"

All shall be well 
& all shall be well 
& all manner of things shall be well.

My favorite authoress, Madeleine L'Engle, penned these words inside the cover of my copy of her book, The Summer of the Great Grandmother. I actually didn't notice the autograph till after I had bought the book second-hand, and it was a delight to find. But this isn't about her lovely handwriting or even the thrill of having her signature in one of my books. This is about the wise reminder of those words and the wise words within the covers of the book she signed. 

A month ago today my best friend's mama went Home to be with Jesus. A month ago I was sitting in the hospital with my friend and her family--overjoyed that she was back from Africa and delighted more than words can say to hug her again, and yet devastated by the reason for her return. The drive from Lookout Mountain to Atlanta was so long that night. Before I even turned my wheels south, I knew I was going home to grieve. I ate chips and a Mojo burrito as I sat in traffic leaving Chattanooga. How did I do that so calmly? Just afterward the tears started. There were and have been a lot of tears. 

Not seven months earlier we had all gathered when another dear friend's mama went Home. Two mamas. Two friends. One year. The weight of grief is so very heavy. 

For nearly a month now a beautiful, young face has smiled back at me from the front of the binder where I keep my school notes. She was so healthy, so full of life. None of us have answers for the questions feel, the questions we carry with us daily like jewelry made of lead. 

I go searching for her, Madeleine wrote, describing her struggle to remember her mother even as she watched her mother waste away with age. We've all gone searching this month--searching our memories, digging through years of photos, finding videos that captured the laugh that any one of  us could have picked out of a crowd. We've gone searching, too, for each other. Searching for the arms of friends who can grieve well with us. As I told still another friend (there's a generous handful of us who might as well be sisters), "This is why we have each other. We do life together."

Hope. We search for hope. At our home-church, we don't have "funerals" in the dirge-y, morbid sense. We celebrate lives lived for a King and Kingdom of Hope. We all wore bright colors and red toe nails to the celebration last month. Without the hope of Home, life and love are meaningless. 

Ousia. Madeleine's word of choice that summer all those years ago. The essence of being, that which is really real. Only by dying do we see the really real. Those of us who are grieving now are growing a deeper Hope than we had before. Madeleine would say that we're practicing dying. To die well, she says, includes dying to ourselves in bits even now. "It has nothing to do with long-faced self-righteousness, with pomposity or piously. It does not preclude play or laughter. It is light, not heavy; merry, not sad; and it is realistic and never sentimental." As we practice dying, we realize that our eyes are more Homeward than before.

My friends' mamas died well. From our eyes, it was far too soon, and they are too well loved and needed here to be gone. But their days were measured before they breathed their first. They were ready; they knew the glory that was waiting. I want to be ready like them. 

Let my last breath here
Be my first with You
Where You rob my fear
And You make me new
So whatever comes
Whatever I go through
Let my last breath here
Be my first with You
I'll join with all the saints
And lift my voice
When I see Your face
Through tears of joy
~Phil Wickham, "Tears of Joy"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments about this post--I'd love to hear from you!