It’s been an interesting week for me when it comes to facing mortality and grief in life. Last Wednesday I took the time to blast out of Santa Cruz at 5am to run up to my childhood hometown to check on my dad. I made such great time (who knew how fast you can actually get around the Bay Area when there isn’t any traffic?) and so I decided to head out to the graveside of my mom. In the dark of the morning, as the sun rose, I stood on the edge of the grass where my mom was laid to rest and spent a few moments thanking God, and thanking my mom, for all the love and memories we shared in life. It was a mix of both grief and gratitude.
In the last few days I’ve spent time with two people processing very new, and very raw, grief. One of them is the pastor of the church that our church rents from. His 94-year-old mother faded away from congestive heart failure and went home to be with Jesus last Friday. As we talked he expressed the odd mix of both grief and relief and gratitude. He smiled with misty eyes. Then he told stories of how his 96-year-old father was singing his wife’s favorite hymns and Christmas carols in the background as she made her way into the arms of Jesus. Then just yesterday I walked two doors down to my neighbor. One week ago, his wife who’d been given 4 months to live, passed away at home under hospice care and surrounded by family. My neighbor is a man’s man, but I just went in and gave him a bear hug and told him we loved him and if he needed anything we’d be happy to help. We just stood there looking at his Harley, as he prepared to hit the road and experience some solitude, and we talked about her passing and about love. My neighbor is not a believer, and even admits to being ticked at God for not letting his wife live, but I shared with him the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes where he says, “Love is stronger than death.” He smiled with misty eyes. My heart feels deeply the reality of loss.
I’ll end with this great line from a new worship song by Rend Collective. In their song “Weep with Me” they sing this line – “Turn my lament into love song.” The great hope we all have is that God is actually capable of turning lament into a love song.