Welcome back to the place where I sometimes ponder the tough stuff. If we leave pretending behind and commit to be real, then we encounter all, no shortcuts. So stay with me if you can. We can have confidence we are not alone when we walk with Jesus through the scary, hard to know places. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.
We all think about death at some point.
Our own death, losing loved ones, and perhaps those we have already lost.
Though an end to life is inevitable, we sometimes spend a good deal of energy avoiding the topic. It is my opinion that our culture does not honor death.
I feel sad when I think of the many older people spending their last days in a nursing home who die without the chance to celebrate their life, or the many who in desperation determine their own expiration date.
How can our lives change if we seize the opportunity to encounter the sacredness of death?
Let’s look at Jesus’ friend Mary:
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with her fragrance.
Can you imagine what type of feeling was running through Mary’s veins?
Grasping her long hair, surrounded by an inviting aroma and losing herself in the sacred space at the feet of Our Savior. Though Mary in her humanness could not fully comprehend what was to come, Our Lord granted her the wisdom to acknowledge his coming death.
Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.”
In what ways do we prepare and honor the anticipated death of our loved ones?
My experience with Hospice when my mother died was like none other. There in the privacy of our home, nurses came to adjust meds and to counsel me. I was so lost and searching for someone to speak truth, to give me some assurance because I had none. I recall the nurse. Her kind, middle-of-life face, smiled easily. Her brown eyes looked deeply into mine. “You have already begun the grieving process,” she said in a calm, quiet voice.
Though I was panicky at the thought of my mom dying and knew nothing of God, the nurse’s mannerisms told me about that hospital bed in our living room, where my mother would take her last breath … sacred space.
The Hospice nurse was my mother’s Mary.
Honor, prepare, peace, as best as I could muster.
In Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott tells of a woman at her church on fire for Jesus who got sick and anticipated her own death. Knowing she would be cremated, the woman asked the children at church to decorate the box where her ashes would be kept. This story touches me because like Jesus, this woman took charge of leading others to her sacred space. As if to say to everyone, adults included, “it’s okay. Yes, I will die, but it will be okay.”
What if we are caught off guard with death? Where is the sacred in that?
Gail Cooper, a Daughter to the King, a speaker (we met at a conference a couple years back), a wife and a mom, graciously agreed to comment for this blog.
She and her husband lost their son. No warning and a long search.
Gail says this:
“A parent never gets over the grief of losing a child. That’s just the way it is for me, anyway.
What helps me through the darkest days is realizing death is not the end for a believer but the beginning of eternal life with Christ.
I have come to understand that even though, at times, I still can feel so broken, something beautiful is taking place … something holy.
The sacredness of death is a shift that takes places when our soul exits the body and enters the splendor of the Savior.
This gives me hope.
This gives me peace.”
Jesus and His angels are celebrating Gail’s heart. Can you hear their trumpets?
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice.
For the person leaving this earth, there is such amazement waiting, a Heaven we know very little about.
For the rest of us who muddle around in grief and sadness, Jesus is our light that fuels our life. He has not walked this earth for over 2000 years, yet He is still shining.
So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
A joy that rises above loss, pain, and suffering.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
Jesus in all His compassionate power encourages joy now and promises only joy in the next life.
In the words of my dear friend Diana, “Death is indeed as sacred as the life we have known because it is the portal to the sacred life we have yet to know”.
I visualize life and death as mirrors of each other.
If we embrace life with the people God has given us
savor the moments
soak up His love to share
aren’t we using the most exquisite perfume to prepare for the eventual goodbye,
to honor the sacred space where life and death become one?
I pray these words encouraged you in some way, or brought a name to your heart. Maybe your friend, mother, or colleague needs these words today.
We will hear from Dena Talmage on Tuesday, sharing her beautiful story.
Next Thursday look for some lightness here. I will return to talk about the summer version of FBS 🙂
In the meantime, if you want to read something lighter, I am honored to be interviewed by Author Jacqueline Patterson. If you would like to read my short thoughts on being a writer, check out https://japatterson.com/MotivationMondayInterviewwithSpeakerandAuthorJulie Dibble
If you need prayers, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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