love in grief

A woman in our church died yesterday. I worked closely with her to build our children's ministry. She was always helpful, self-less, and only thought of others. I'm not even sure if she'd seen her 40th birthday yet. I don't sob often, and I certainly do not cry when other people are around. But I cried instantly when I heard the news. That loud kind that makes people uncomfortable.

The news hit me like truck. See, I lost one of my uncles earlier this month and another uncle last summer. I know I got married last May, but this year sorta blows. I saw more loss than I'd ever seen before in a 365 consecutive day period. The end of the year usually calls us to reflect, but it's been hard to see the good stuff this time.

This morning I sought solace in meditation. In the quiet, I recalled the story of Lazarus. See, even Jesus grieved when His friend Lazarus died. He shed a tear knowing full and well that He'd raise Lazarus up in a matter of moments. It helps me see that there's no shame in mourning. Even when we get all Christian-y about things, talking about Heaven, joy, and seeing someone again, it's perfectly natural to grieve. Someone was here, and now they're not. More often than not, it feels way too soon. That's worth a cry that bellows up from the inner depths of sorrow.

With all of this, I notice something miraculous at the same time. If you're curious who people really are, watch what they do and say when someone dies. I saw and continue to see such an outpouring of grace and support. Gifts, food, comfort, phone calls, cards just to say they were thinking of the bereaved. When I came back to Virginia after my second uncle's funeral, I was met at my church with hugs before I even walked in the door. People care. They love... big time in a big way. When I collect every kind word, I am overwhelmed at the capacity to which we can care for each other on this earth.

So, in the end, when I really look back on 2013 and see all tears and heavy hearts, I also see love. So much love. Somehow it's all good, and I manage to look ahead with wonder and hopeful curiousity of what the new year has in store.


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