With our son’s new life in a group home comes our reclaimed freedom to have company without having to provide tag team care giving.
In recent weeks we’ve welcomed an eclectic group of friends to come over for a Friday night Bible study. We look into topics brainstormed by the group.
Last night we looked into death.
As you might imagine, that took us in a number of directions. One point that seemed to resonate was that life is full of dress rehearsals for death. We suffer losses, not only of people we love but also of dreams, relationships, health, money, fantasies and you-name-it.
Nothing is held permanently and nothing is 100% under our control – As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil, which he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15) That death-like denuding goes on all the time, in the midst of life.
For caregivers, it happens with a vengeance when we hear the diagnosis that turns us into, well, caregivers. An envisioned future with a loved one dies and we die to the life we were living to that point. The call to care giving is a blaring trumpet, announcing a cavalcade of casualties.
The Christian spiritual path is one that takes in such deaths as part of life, as dress rehearsals for the physical death that is the lot of all living beings. I die every day!, flamed the Apostle Paul. Yet he affirmed that this was not the final word, but always a preparation for a new and unexpected life to flower,
You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel… (1 Corinthians 15:36)
And we can find that the dress rehearsals – those death-like losses life brings – can connect us to a death enacted for us, to empower and transform us in the here and now, not to endure losses with a stuff upper lip or daydream about a heavenly pie in the sky, but to become life-giving blessings to those in our care; indeed to the whole creation,
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Let me say it again: the Christian life isn’t stiff upper lip or pie in the sky but, as one of our friends pointed out last night, passionate commitment to life with all its hurts
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35)
and a divine gift to help us move the world with love,
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (John 14:12)
Entertain the thought that care giving is one of these greater works that Jesus promises to load with heavenly power.
And keep rehearsing, even through the death scenes.