Written on Sunday, April 28
How dark is death when it comes. We rage against that night, that pulling of the shades, and closing of the shutters, and welling of the tears.
And, how inept we stand, at the edge of the crowd, when that one who has been left behind is our minister, our preacher of the immeasurable love of Christ, and of the victory of life, in the Resurrection, the purveyor of hope Sunday by Sunday, on this day when, at last, in church, he must lay away his beloved, his partner, even - in ways of faith - his teacher, and let her be taken from his arms, his daily life, his family, his ministry - his hopes and dreams of raising their daughter, and their growing old together.
He knows the answers. He knows the truth. He is a good and wise, faithful and following disciple of Jesus. But oh, the hurt of this day, to send that magnificent woman home to heaven. How deep that wound, beyond the real understanding of any of us.
Even as we know our time will come, of either letting our dear one go, or our being the one to go through the dying, and the crossing - to the far shore - ourselves. We know it's time, we must "walk that lonesome valley, we must walk it by ourselves. Oh, nobody else can walk it for us, we have to walk it by ourselves."
So this day of the gathered friends, and the beautiful service is both the sad, glad day. The parting day, the home-going resurrection day, the suddenly alone day, on this side.
So, pray on, brothers and sisters. Still rally round, faithful company, do not abandon our leader, more beloved than ever. Find ways to be there. Keep him in prayer. Love him through these days, and all his days, and our days.
Holy Week this year has seemed so much a dying time. Dear Dawn gone Home - on Easter morning. And Mary Lou, beloved sister in Christ, wise woman of faith, courageous defender of every child of God's right to life - a brave battler too, of the dread disease, "went home to Jesus at 5:00 this morning," as her Floyd called to say. And, too many others, it seems, walking that road these dying days.
This week I spent with one, still young, son of this church, a Jesus man, an oarsman - like me - but, a historian, a teacher of America's history, a studier of the tumultuous decades he remembers here of the Christian task, the preacher's work and words, of call, to the life of "our utmost for His Highest," to point out the Jesus journey through this time. He wanted to read those sermons he heard as a teen-age lad, and see what hope there was, for the people of faith, in those days.
We talked of complexity, of conflict, of compassion, even of courage demanded of the Jesus way.
It is a stab at a legacy that can perhaps be left, for those who care. Not probably so much for children and grandchildren, as for perhaps strangers of generations yet to be, to see visions and dreams once brought to these shores by Puritans and Pilgrims, who laid here, in their churches and communities a foundation of the heart, that can be claimed again, and lived out and built into a people whom God sent to these shores to be as a "city set upon a hill, with the eyes of the world upon it." The servant nation with a heart for all people, and their life and hope.
Dawn herself has set visions and dreams, in her waiting, in her fierce believing, in her trust in the One with whom she dared to die.
So also, with Mary Lou, herself a courageous woman of faith, who died today. So many wise sisters - and brothers, too - to be the Lord's servant daring to march with love, into the critical days and decades ahead.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES