Several years ago one of my dear friends, Linda Davis, lost her brother Hal after a long illness. Her Aunt, Donna Hart Parson, penned a poem that was a great comfort to the family. Yesterday, while I was straightening my study, a copy of the poem "accidentally" fell out of a book. I asked for, and received, permission to reproduce it here.
The poem is called "Morning," and it couldn't be any more appropriate for my brother, Geoff.
Where he awoke It is morning. Perhaps he paused Puzzled at the lack of pain And startled to find Himself standing Straight of spine And firm of foot, Perhaps he was bemused A little by wisps Of sorrow and love Trailing after him, Then with a shrug That loosed earth and time Like a fallen cloak, He strode, unafraid Into the brightness Waiting there. - Donna H. Parson, for Hal, 1982
LIFE AFTER LIFE: I asked one of my brother's Hospice workers what she thought about ideas such as heaven, immortality, and eternity; and I asked if her work with those at the end of life's journey had affected her beliefs.
"Absolutely," she told me. "When I started working with Hospice I was ambivalent; but now I'm one hundred percent certain that there's life beyond life."
It wasn't a conversation about Christianity; but it was a conversation about faith. She went on to explain that her work has taken away any doubts, and she feels that it is a real privilege to be a part of such a beautiful transition.
Well, I have to admit that I'm still having a hard time with the "beautiful" part of this, at least from my side of seeing in a glass, dimly. "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us..." (First Corinthians 13:12 - The Message).
For right now I'll still own up to pain, and sadness. But - at the same time - I really am feeling the assurance, and I'm owning the promise part too. And I can see my way clearly to the imagery in Donna Parson's wonderful poem.
LONGING: I'll even accept "beautiful" on Geoff's behalf at least. Because I know, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Geoff is enjoying the absence of pain, and the firmness of foot, and that he is striding unafraid into the brightness waiting there...
But I also suspect he has a wistfulness, and a hint of longing on behalf of his family - because our love has not nearly yet begun to let him go.
But it's enough to go on for now. Peace - DEREK