Updated: Mar 31
March 25, 2023
I had the most beautiful breakfast with some of my closest women friends this morning. Some of us were moved to tears by the goodness of God to not only bless us with Himself, but with each other as well.
Because I’m no longer driving, my husband picked me up afterwards. On the drive home, I asked him what he did while at home without me, who is always at home these days. He said he watched a teaching about whether Christians should be cremated. I asked him what the verdict was, and he summarized it for me. My thoughts went to the urn that contains a portion of my mom’s ashes that sits within view of the desk at which I sit every day.
Later, I happened to be dusting my room. As I lifted the urn of mom’s ashes to dust underneath it, the Lord deeply impressed upon me that it is time to let them go. I came to immediate agreement. Why would I want to hold onto a portion of mom’s earthly tent when she is now in her glorified body in glory? As I say of my own tent, I am going to fold it up one day and leave it behind. Even though I loved so much the woman who inhabited it, it’s not her, and she’s not there.
Soon we are going to Yellowstone with our dearest friends. They are family, really. It occurred to me what a perfect place that would be to set the rest of mom’s ashes free, and I could not think of a more perfect setting to return dust to dust.
God is good like that, isn’t He? To give us Him but also each other, traveling companions who are sojourners here just as much as we are? Yes, He’s good like that.
As I moved on to dust the bookcase that holds the items my mom gave me, the Lord showed me how many beautiful things I have to remember her by that recall her life, not her death. As I dusted my way down the shelves, I came across a book I bought myself just after she died. It turned out to be a book I could not bear to read, so it sat on my shelf, collecting dust of its own.
But as I read it now, it offers reflection on the grand scheme of things – on the last enemy to be destroyed, and on the Planner and His original plan, which will in the end be restored. I opened it, and the Lord brought me to the most perfect passage, excerpts of which follow.
A Liturgy of Thanksgiving at the Return of Joy
For a long season, O Lord
I considered it an impossibility
what I now know as unshakable truth:
that after loss, pain, tragedy, tears,
sorrow, doubt, defeat, and disarray,
I will hold a more costly and precious joy
than any I have held before;
. . .
And so I know this unexpected joy
is no glib and passing fancy.
It is rather the diamond-hard treasure
unearthed and recognized
only when lesser hopes have collapsed.
It is the knowledge of your unwavering
faithfulness, O Christ, now experienced
and owned. It is the bright beacon
of your promises blooming in the night
like signal fires upon mountain peaks.
. . .
And so I will celebrate your goodness in the
land of the living. I will delight in this life,
even as it is lived in the shadow of death,
for a day will come when all of your children
will rise eternal, taking joy together.
. . .
You have lifted my eyes to the sight of
sunlight shafts piercing the darkest clouds,
gracing in gold a distant hill to which
I will inevitably one day come.
You have whispered to me again and again,
that the end is not the end.
. . .
Douglas Kaine McKelvey,
Every Moment Holy, Volume II – Death, Grief, and Hope
Rabbit Room Press