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.”
After Father Satish's homily on "The Parable of our True Worth", I asked my pre-teen daughter how she wanted to look back on her life and be proud of herself. She proved herself much more mature and focused than I was at her age, and said she that wants to be a second grade teacher and "help others grow in their faith." The conversation led to me sharing my testimony with her, a great mother-daughter bonding experience, and encounters with Christ for both of us.
Today, I had the privilege of meeting Christ twice. I was in line at the Post Office when a lady who had some business at the desk turned to leave. I noticed that she walked with crutches, so I opened the door for her when she left the service area and also the facility. She thanked me for doing this. I had to leave my place in line to do this, but when I returned to the line, the lady who was standing behind me in line smiled and gestured to me to take my original place in line. We exchanged pleasantries,and I thanked her for her generosity.
I believe that I met Christ in the lady who walked with crutches, and also in the lady who generously offered my original place in line.
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.