This guest blogger is a woman of prayer, a spiritual director, a mother, grandmother, observer of nature, and caretaker of souls. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a post by the the woman who raised me: Lucky Jane.
July 14, 2016. 10:00 p.m.
I stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes, in a state of mindless oblivion, giving way, falling back, reeling like one who has been struck. It’s the sudden finality of it. The door-slammed-last-chapter-never-call-never-write-never-text-no-more-hugs finality of it.
Though I personally own no theology about praying for the dead, I find myself praying for them: “O God, give her joy.” “Oh God, give him joy.” But they are joyless prayers. I know what I know, but what I feel comes out in endless tears, tears when asked, “How are you?” Great wracking sobs alone at night, tears on the way to the grocery store, unstoppable tears because I find no vessel deep enough to hold this sorrow.
Bells ring softly as the front door gently opens and closes. Ashleyne looks around the corner into the kitchen and says, “Put your shoes on, Mama, I have something to show you.”
We head out into the dark night, drive off in her car, park in a clearing half-way up the hill, get out of the car and look to the north. There in the otherwise cloudless sky a large shade-tree-shaped cloud lights up the darkness. Then, like a toddler has discovered a celestial switch and is gleefully testing it, the light goes out. Then on. Then out… then on… I have never seen anything like this. I begin to cry.
“It makes me think of Kylie, Ashleyne.”
“Yes,” she replies.
We drive further up the hill, a little closer to the cloud, stand outside and watch, amazed. I sense You. The wonder of You. The power of You. The freedom of You to show up uncontained wherever You will. Worldwide, lightning strikes occur around one hundred times every second, and here on this dark night You use it bring me to a place where I am paying attention, where I can listen.
“I have her,” You say.
Oh… You have her.
“I guess God can take care of her,” I say to Ashleyne.
Ashleyne puts her arm around me. “Yes,” she replies.
Hours before Jerry’s sudden and unexpected death I wrote these words in my journal:
“I think about Jesus saying, ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’ I find I am thinking of what for me is a whole new interpretation of these hard-to-understand words – that is the giving up of those I love into the hands of God. That my heart would love You so purely as to entrust the life of my father, mother, son, daughter, no matter what that life may look like, no matter the pain that must be born, to be able to say ‘this person does not belong to me, but to YOU…may your GOOD AND PERFECT WILL BE DONE, may it be done according to WHO YOU ARE because I trust WHO YOU ARE,’ is to love You more than these my beloveds.”
The vessel deep enough to hold the sorrow is You.
We grieve, but we grieve with hope.
The last time we talked I asked Kylie, “What is the most satisfying thing you have ever done?”
She replied, “When I built relationships with people and offered them hope.”
This is the hope that I now catch: that these two powerfully passionate and loving people are more intensely alive, fulfilled, and creatively active than ever before, that they play in what C.S. Lewis describes as “the holy game,” whose first rule is “…that every player must by all means touch the ball and then immediately pass it on.” Yes, God, I pray, give them joy.