Last Saturday Alan and I joined in a romantic, intimate, and very picturesque wedding reception for some of us Michiganders
to celebrate Nathan and Dana’s wedding, which had occurred just previously in Rocky Mountain National Park (where my parents were also married 77 years ago). We had such a great time rejoicing in their joy and catching up with friends, particularly since Alan grew up with all the relatives on Nathan’s side of the family, and I even call Nathan’s grandparents “aunt” and “uncle.” Really wonderful people and great friends for most of our lives!
When I returned home, I discovered that one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known had passed away that very morning after a dreadful journey through the dark shadowland of brain cancer. Today is her visitation; tomorrow is her memorial service. I quoted her family’s thoughts last week as she neared death on my post entitled “Looking into our Inner Lives,” and three years ago on the post “Seasons of Life,” I recalled how she gave up her own birthday party (without my even knowing it) to watch our firstborn (Aaron) so that Alan could take me to the hospital the day our second-born (Michael) was born. That act of selflessness was so like Martha; she will be irreplaceable.
I was thinking about life and death and all the collisions of joy and sorrow in life. Two generations after my parents were married in the Rockies, the son of dear friends was coincidentally married there! My parents would have been 100 this year had they lived, but they are both gone. In fact, 10 years ago we honored their request that they be cremated and have their ashes intermingled and scattered on a mountain side in their beloved Rockies. Much as I miss them, I wouldn’t wish them back from heaven for my sake. I was also lamenting the loss of Martha, who died on the day Nathan was married. Martha was my age and seems “way too young” to die. Still, I’m sure her family wouldn’t wish her back from heaven now, much as it hurts. On her birthday, my son Michael was born almost 38 years ago. I always think of Martha on Mike’s birthday, but I’m sure now it will be not only with joy, but also with mourning. Life is such a blessing. Death is such a sorrow.
I am thankful that as we experience the painful realities of life and the interplay of bliss and woe, we can—by faith—hold to the hope that someday
death will be swallowed up by Life!
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”