April 12, 2012Is sympathy a synonym for compassion? Does it mean that a sympathetic person is a compassionate person? Do we know what it is like to walk in each other’s shoes? Really? Mike’s death is a natural death at an unnatural time. While he went gently into the night, he went far too soon. This is the death I would want. Simply to go to bed and drift into death like a sweet dream completed. But I am old. And my death would be far more timely. Someone said, “At least he did not suffer.” My response was, “Yes. But dead is dead.” Death at the end of suffering has a different emotion, almost a thanksgiving that a loved one is released from misery. Death of natural causes at a young age is like free fall… the floor has disappeared and the bottom is not yet in sight. My confession is like that of Saint Paul… I am too attached to this mortal world. I have not yet put on the spirit of immortality, which is not of this world, but the world beyond this world. I am attached to family and friends as if this is the way it will always be. Then death comes in to remind me that my status quo attachment is fragile and fleeting at best. I am a slow learner. Do not give up on me, Lord. Bless Mike’s family, my family. Teach me to trust in such a way that I can carry on living in a way that gives witness to your promise of life forevermore. Even from the Old Testament word there is promise that dry bones will rise. Then there is Easter. What more promise do I need? The living will keep living, the family will remain family, and the empty chair will not be filled this side of heaven. And we will cry in the night and remember in the day till we are together again. We are one, a great communion, a beloved community. We are one in spirit, one with Christ, one with each other. One with the energy and spirit of all creation. One that can never be destroyed. Human longings bear pain, and loss is certain. But life is eternal. Paul says that we see through a glass dimly. But there will come a time that we will see face to face. Let this truth fuel hope among those who grieve, including me. Amen.