Tag Archives: death

Reflections on the Death of My Mother

Jonathan has been preaching through Genesis in the evening service and a few weeks ago Genesis 46:4 stood out to me.

“I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

Our modern world thinks so rarely of the task of closing the eyes of the dead, but it struck me that one of the great promises God granted to Jacob was the promise that his long-thought-dead son would be the one to close his eyes. The intimacy and beauty of that care touched me in a bitter sweet way. I realized that living roughly 1400 km (850 miles) from my parents and 5000 km (3000 miles) from Jonathan’s parents meant that we would likely not have that moment, real or symbolic, of closing our parents’ eyes in death. Three weeks later we received a completely unexpected phone call that my mother was dying of a brain bleed, and there was no way to make it to her side in time to say good bye. The Lord had so graciously prepared me for the situation I could not have known I would face.

There were so many moments of kindness in the journey. Our church session was quick to encourage Jonathan to travel with me instead of sending me alone. Our church congregation, my sister’s congregation (also in our presbytery) and the other churches of our presbytery, and my father’s church all expressed their care and love for us in so many ways. The funeral service was full with people from almost every part of my mother’s life, except her Australia years. We received flowers and phone calls and literally hundreds of emails and Facebook messages with such kind and genuine memories of my mother. The Lord was kind to sustain us, even when we were struck with the stomach flu the night before the funeral.

memorialfrontNow, after seven hectic, but blessed, days of funeral preparations, we are back home, and the chronic nature of grief is becoming real to me. I had not realized how many times every day I think “I must remember that for Mom.” or “Mom would love that story.” or “Take a picture of that for Mom.” I had often joked about hearing my mother’s voice in my head. Don’t we all do that? But I hadn’t realized how very often the every day tasks in my life incorporated a memory of something my mother said, or taught me, or loved, or hated. There are so many irrational moments like seeing my Scrabble board and suddenly feeling overwhelming sense of guilt that I hadn’t replaced the J as I promised her I would before her next visit. There are those gut wrenching moments like being the only member of the family who could disable her Facebook account. There is the reality, as I sit blogging, that I was always certain, no matter what I wrote, my Mom would read it. There is that sense of sadness that I carry with me, inside my chest, without really being able to express it.

My mother loved the Lord and was loved by Him. Her struggles with her health, her body, and her mind are now gone, and she is worshiping in a peace and joy she never knew here. I do not grieve as one with no hope, nor do I grieve as the one who knows the Lord and is certain their loved one did not. However, I do grieve. I grieve in the confidence that the Lord’s promises are true and that my mother is resting in the arms of our Savior just as my first child is. Still, I grieve.  I grieve because I miss my mother. I grieve because I don’t think my youngest daughter will remember her Nana. I grieve because death is the result of sin and corruption in God’s good creation.

People ask me how I am, and I answer “I am doing well. The Lord is sustaining.” It is true. It is not a mindless platitude or the socially expected statement from a minister’s wife. The Lord is kind and is sustaining me in my sadness, just as he prepared my heart for it weeks ago. Blessed is the name of the Lord.


Thoughts on Noah

Our mackerdoodle is fascinated with the details of Noah and the worldwide flood. She wants to know all the details about how the world flooded and what the ark looked like and how did the animals come to the ark, and how heavy the rain was . . .

Yesterday at supper she was asking all sorts of questions, and I was trying to answer them, when my very wise husband said, “Instead of just talking about this, let’s read it directly from the bible.”

Good idea. Why didn’t I think of that?

Jonathan didn’t read all three chapters (I mean, it was supper time, and she might be smart, but she’s only 3.5), but he hit the high points and emphasized the redemption aspect of the story. As he was reading, I saw a couple of things that I hadn’t seen before.

Thing One

They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.  Genesis 7:15&16

God specifically rescued those things that contained the breath of life. Noah wasn’t charged with preserving any form of plant life. God makes a distinction here. He defines “living” as anything with breath. This is significant because there is a movement trying to claim that because Adam and Eve ate plants in the garden, death pre-existed sin. The flood tells us that God doesn’t consider plants to be living things. Death did not enter the garden until God killed an animal to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness.

Thing Two

the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21&22

So I know this is going to be controversial, but I couldn’t help but notice here that God does not leave room here for humanity to affect climate. Obviously sin corrupts all levels of creation, and other parts of scripture tells us that famine and drought and localized floods and storms are a part of (a) the general effects of sin and (b) God’s specific judgement and correction of his people. What the promise of the rainbow tells us, however, is that the regular pattern of weather, the movement of seasons, the overall state of global climate, will not be altered significantly. The idea that humanity could cause world wide catastrophic climate change of any form is denied by the covenant of God, because the God who was able create the earth and then destroy most of it in a world wide flood, won’t be undone by the piddly efforts of a few industrialized and developing nations.

Just my thoughts on what I thought was a familiar bible story.