- Peter, to Jesus: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!
Sarasota, Saturday afternoon:
This was a hard one. I can still see it clearly, standing in a quiet graveyard in the rain, holding an umbrella over Rebekah as she speaks to the small crowd of family and friends gathered around the tiny grave.
Audrey Rose - my niece Hannah's baby - had been doing very well for a little over six months, growing steadily in her mother's womb and waiting for the day she would make her official entry into the family. She was already deeply loved, prayed for, cared for, celebrated and widely anticipated. But then, one sad day this week, a blood clot formed in the umbilical cord and Audrey Rose died.
She was perfect. So very tiny, and weighing in at less than a couple of pounds, Audrey was beautifully formed in every way. There's no need for academic or politically loaded arguments about "the exact moment life begins" if you see a picture of little Audrey Rose. Life, God-breathed, not just latent but loaded, a spirited child, both of Spirit and with spirit.
Rebekah spoke. She read scripture. She prayed. She committed Audrey's tiny body to the earth. And she shared good words of life; words of eternal life. Our lives cannot be measured or evaluated in the limited language of chronological time. "Living (on earth) alone is not enough of an explanation for LIFE..."
Rebekah said that everyone - irrespective of their religious persuasion, or their interest in Christianity, or their inclination toward the particular practice of faith that we understand - everyone feels some intuitive response or sense of angst or aching need for some story of truth to fill a nagging void at times like this...
Each one of us has a unique story that can only be fathomed when understood in the context of the Greatest Story Ever Told. Audrey Rose not only is a story, but she has a story too.
Our spirits, mine and yours, are anchored in the eternal. Audrey is now experiencing such completeness of love and she is being nourished in the presence of Jesus.
I always feel especially close to God at times like this. I believe that moments of birth and of parting - and this was, in a sense, both an introduction and a farewell - are moments when it is unusually simple to reach out and touch divinity.
The point of God in the face of grief is the reality of God's presence more than a corrective intervention designed to make our lives easier or more to our liking. God with us is God for us. God was certainly for the extended Roberts-Maul family today.