Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Waiting and Imagining

November 4, 2008

This morning, there are brave workmen on my roof above where I type. They are stomping around, singing, hammering, and throwing old cedar shakes to the ground outside my window. Occasionally, there is a huge thud that sounds like they might be falling through the ceiling. They are distracting me. I could go to another part of the house, but I am a little worried and want to be quick to call for help should something go wrong up there. I cannot imagine having to go to work every day where I must climb a ladder 30 feet up and then stand on a steep slope to do my job. I appreciate their bravery and confidence.

Sometimes doing the task is easier than imagining it. So often through Megan’s illness and death, a kind note or conversation would include the phrase “I cannot imagine what you are going through”. I could not imagine it either, interestingly. To think back now, remembering the stages of Megan’s decline makes me want to jump out of my skin. I know now that God through his merciful love protected me from the worst of the pain and gave me the ability to face the task daily with a type of bravery that seems now so unattainable.

Yesterday was one of those days. It was All-Saint’s Day at our church. On this first Sunday in November, we recognize those church members who have died during the past year. This is often a neglected liturgical day in many protestant churches because the tradition is rooted in medieval Catholicism where homage is give to those who have been canonized – like St. Francis of Assisi who stands in my garden. Our pastor entitled his sermon “We are Blessed” taken from Matthew 5:1-12, the Sermon on the Mount. He said that through our baptism we all are claimed as saints by our Lord and should act like it. He said we should live our life with joy with every breath we take because of what Christ did on the cross for all of us. He said we should remember and give thanks for those who pointed us to God and modeled the virtues of the Christian life. And then we stood as 50 names were called out and a candle was lit for each as a bell chimed. As I heard my own child’s name called, the finality once again hit me hard and I was steadied by the loving arms of friends at my side. But my tears dried as I listened to the ancient Irish prayer, Be Thou My Vision, and I felt warmth and a sense of strength that only God provides, giving thanks that Megan was a model of the virtues of the Christian life and that she is shining in Heaven – safe and secure.

A friend wrote the other day whose husband had died and said, “On the days when I am really missing him, I remind myself that if he had the choice to come back to me, he would choose to remain in Heaven and I find strength and hope in that.” As much as she loved us and loved this life, Megan would choose Heaven. I am just trying to imagine it.

And the only way to somewhat imagine what God has planned for us is to wait, trust, and be still before Him. The days when I fall apart are the days that I have given Him so little of that day. But it is the first of the month and I have returned to the front of my book, Waiting on God, and read a beautiful poem at Day 1. At first I stumbled over archaic words like fain, nought, and henceforth, but with rereading – and pondering – well, it says it all. Do not let the outdated words keep you from the richness of the meaning.

“Wait Thou Only Upon God”
Wait only upon God, my soul, be still,
And let thy God unfold His perfect will,
Thou fain would’st follow Him throughout this year,
Thou fain with listening heart His voice would’st hear,
Thou fain would’st be a passive instrument
Possessed by God, and ever Spirit-sent
Upon His service sweet – then be thou still,
For only thus can he in thee fulfill
His heart’s desire. Oh, hinder not His hand
From fashioning the vessel He hath planned.
“Be silent unto God,” and thou shalt know
The quiet, holy calm He doth bestow
On those who wait on Him; so shalt thou bear
His presence, and His life and light e’en where
The night is darkest, and thine earthly days
Shall show His love, and sound His glorious praise.
And He will work with hand unfettered, free,
His high and holy purposes through thee.
First on thee must that hand of power be turned,
Till in His love’s strong fire thy dross is burned,
And thou come forth a vessel for thy Lord,
So frail and empty, yet, since He hath poured
Into thine emptiness His life, His love,
Henceforth through thee the power of God shall move
And He will work for thee. Stand still and see
The victories thy God will gain for thee;
So silent, yet so irresistible,
Thy God shall do the thing impossible.
Oh, question not henceforth what thou canst do;
Thou canst do nought. But He will carry through
The work where human energy had failed
Where all thy best endeavors had availed
Thee nothing. Then, my soul, wait and be still;
Thy God shall work for thee His perfect will.
If thou wilt take no less, His best shall be
Thy portion now and through eternity.

Freda Hanbury

No comments:

Post a Comment