I was listening to a woman talk about her daughter who recently died of cancer and left behind two small children. She said, "We prayed and prayed for healing, but I did not think that God had in mind spiritual healing. That is exactly what happened. My daughter grew so close to God and received such spiritual healing through her battle with cancer, as did her husband and much of our family, including me." I sensed no bitterness or anger towards God, just a realization of the amazing spiritual healing that He was able to do through tragedy.
Reflecting over 2014, I have been thinking about the encounters with Christ I have had through the deaths of three of my grandparents, which all happened within roughly the past year.
The one thing that all three deaths had in common was this vibrant spirit yearning and fighting to leave their aged bodies and move on to the next life in the last weeks of their lives. My grandpa kept trying to take of his clothes saying, “I came into this world naked, I’m going out naked!” My Nana spent hours in tears asking, “Why do we have to live so long?” And the last, my Grandad, mustered up just enough energy to use his last words to greet my husband and me when we came to say goodbye. My cousin arrived just a few hours later and had the great privilege of gently taking him by the hand and “walking” Grandad to heaven to join his beloved wife of 60+ years – an experience my cousin explains as “divinely surreal.”
What these encounters with Christ did for me were to fortify my belief in our God, who, as Father Satish stated in his homily for the Commemoration of all Souls, “Loves us beyond death,” and also helped me realize how short our lives really are here on Earth, as every memory with each one of them- from my childhood through the present day- flashed through my mind with each passing. And most importantly, the encounters showed me that there is no greater purpose for our short lives here on Earth than to commit our hearts and lives to the mission of Jesus so that all those we meet can also know the God who “loves us beyond death.”
This week, we experienced the death of family member, Ron, who brought a lot of laughter to our lives, and who loved finches.
All spring and summer I've been awestruck by the coneflowers in my yard as I've taken pictures of the butterflies and bees that come to feed. For the first time today a finch sat still long enough for me to take his picture. When I look at the fading flowers and the bright yellow finch, I am reminded and forever grateful that with death comes new life.
Please pray for Ron and his family.