To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I went to a funeral this morning. My uncle had been ill for quite some time and he passed away over the weekend. I didn't see him often but he figures in some of my best holiday memories as a kid. He would cook this huge Christmas breakfast and he and my Aunt would have this open house kind of morning for family and friends. He was a big, burly man with a thick bushy beard and a big laugh.

Last night I held two precious baby boys, one barely two weeks old, the other about nine weeks old. I watched the delight everyone took in these little people, listening to the birth stories and sharing the joy of new life together. At one point the two Mom's and I were in my room as they nursed their little ones and I was speechless at the beauty of seeing them bond with their sons.

Because of sin we want to go our own way, have our own way, do everything our way. There is a reason that Frank Sinatra had a chart topping hit...

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows
-And did it my way!

We like to think that the answer to all of our problems is found inside our self. We like to think we'll be happier to go it alone and not count on anyone. We like to deceive ourselves into thinking we're better when we're alone. But the Truth is we were made for community...for fellowship...for connection. No matter which end of the spectrum I saw in the last two days it was clear that at our core we need each other. Whether to multiply shared joy or ease the burden of grief we will at some point move toward each other.

One of the greatest lies of Satan is that we can have community without Christ. But true community is built upon the One who reconciles us to our Father. We experience true comfort, true joy when our hearts are made right and we are in community with God.

I was doing fine at the funeral until one of my aunt's made her way up the aisle to her sister. As she leaned over and wrapped her arms around her sister the grief spilled out and tears fell. One is mourning the loss of her husband and friend of forty eight years, the other also felt loss but I imagine her grief was compounded by knowing her sister hurt. My Mother walked up and added her arms and tears...and I pushed in closer to Rob, seeking his comfort to soothe my own pain at seeing their grief.

No amount of tears, no hugs can actually take the pain away. But somehow there is healing that begins when we come together...when we hurt together.

Smelling those sweet little baby heads and ohhing and ahhing over the gift God has given those young families doesn't add a day to their life. But it does add to the jubilation and praise of God's goodness.

Community...fellowship with God and His people...is a beautiful, amazing thing. But even at it's best I am reminded of I Corinthians 13:12,

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

The best is yet to come.

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