A Remembering and A Reminding

January 29, 2012

The line at the Farmer Funeral Home in Ayden snaked around every room in the building and out into the January night through the parking lot. Many of them were teenagers there on a Saturday night to say "goodbye" to a class mate, 13-year old Caleb. Caleb's life ended abruptly and far too soon. And for what should have been just another Saturday night of teenage fun, it was far from that. We bury too many teenagers, it seems to me. Who can know, but God, what goes through young people's minds? I remember from about 30 years ago, a pastor told me, "sometimes we choose permanent solutions for temporary problems." While that may be true, it somewhat dismisses the deep angst of growing up, knowing who we are, feeling we are accepted and all the other weightiness of becoming an adult. It gets too hard. The writer of Psalm 69 speaks this  angst: "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck, I sink in deep mire where there is no foothold. I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying, my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." Sometimes we cannot hold on any more. But the words at the end of Psalm 69, remind us of God's steadfast love, a strong promise butted up against the frailty of human life: "Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. And his servants shall live there and possess it, the children of his servants inherit it, and those who love his name shall live in it." God's mercy and grace are the beginning and end of our story. Even when we are so sad in the story. Before the visitation, we visited Harvey for about an hour. Harvey is 96 years old, my parents, last remaining peer. He has a full head of hair and a mind sharp as a tack. He remembered Caleb. "You know I take the elevator into the church. Caleb and I rode up it one day. From that day on, Caleb would wait for me at the top of the elevator ride to help me into the sanctuary. He was a beautiful young man." I could see that for myself. Brown wavy hair, slight of frame, very, very young. Caleb's grandmother told me as I hugged her. "I have smiled several times today, at least two or three. We will get through this." I believe they will. This morning the Baptismal Liturgy was playing in my head as I awoke ...."tell of God's mercies each day. Tell of God's mercies each day." Repeat and repeat again. Caleb rests in God's mercy. He is with God, and as we who remain find our smiles again, may we claim God's mercy each day and give thanks. Amen.

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Tabula Rasa
December 31, 2011