In Sunday School I was taught that angels are “God’s thoughts” visiting us. If that’s the case, I sure have been visited by a lot of angels this past week.

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On Sunday mornings, I usually listen to Krista Tippet’s show on NPR. It used to be “Speaking of Faith,” but now it’s “On Being.” This past Sunday I had it on as usual, but was only half paying attention as I got ready for church. The show was “A Wild Love for the World,” with Joanna Macy, an 81 year-old “philosopher of ecology, . . . Buddhist scholar, and . . . translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.”

When Joanna started talking about how she lost her husband suddenly at the age of 56, I started paying attention. Krista had her read from one of the works she had translated, and I was straining to pay more attention:

The great secret of death, and perhaps its deepest connection with us, is this: that, in taking from us a being we have loved and venerated, death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a more perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves.

Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouty
January 23, 1924

I made a mental note to search the NPR website later to find the words so I could write them down. But before I got home from church, my mom had sent me this email:

Awesome program I heard [on NPR] this morning. Among other things, this amazing woman talked about dealing with the sudden death of her husband of 56 years.  Click on and hear the whole program, but this poem she read seemed so appropriate, a poem by Rilke . . .

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The Gospel reading for Sunday was from John 3:17:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

I thought that was a fitting message in the wake of my Dad’s passing.

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After church on Sunday I visited one of my best friends from high school who was home for the weekend to visit her parents. I didn’t know until I was there that her uncle had passed away a few weeks ago.  His death had her family facing the “life is short” reality, and she and her siblings were visiting their parents because “it had been a while” since they all were together. I was really touched at the thought that their efforts to come together as a family brought her to town just when I needed my friend most.

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Today I had to call the funeral parlor to check on the status of “things.” I very much want to be the person to pick up my Dad’s ashes, but that didn’t make making the call (or anticipating making the call) any easier.

As I was listening to the morning prayer podcast this morning, this passage from John 6: 63 caught my attention:

It is the Spirit that gives life, for flesh has nothing to offer.

This comforted me, by reminding me that it is not my Dad at the funeral parlor. The ashes have “nothing to offer” me (except, maybe, the opportunity to say goodbye that I didn’t have) because my Dad’s spirit lives on. 

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A few hours after I published this post, a friend who is an Episcopalian priest in California (and who I’m pretty sure did not read this post yet), shared a link to an article on her Facebook page. This passage spoke to my current state most directly:

To believe that in the midst of suffering God is with us, working along with us to create something good out of such painful realities, causes us to ask how sickness and death can be the basis or motivation to do something that would bless others in significant ways, instead of asking “why did this sickness happen?” We will be asking, “God! What good can we create out of this sickness and what good can we create out of death?”

While I am not quite at a point of asking what good can come from my Dad’s passing, I do take comfort in the fact that “in the midst of [my] suffering God is with [me].” And, if anyone who knows me or has read my blog posts is inspired to reach out to a loved one, that surely would be a good thing.

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As I told a friend, I feel like I am living in a kaleidoscope. The bits of my life that seem to be falling apart at the edges are coming together in a beautiful way.

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3 Responses to Kaleidoscope

  1. steena says:

    I know this is random, off-topic-ish, but Sara Barielles sings a beautiful song called Kaleidescope. You should give it a listen.
    I'm amazed at how well you're doing with all of this, finding the beauty in it, and just hanging on strong. You have some nice angels hanging around you.

  2. hitherandyonder says:

    What a beautiful, thoughtful post about your dad's passing. I pray you continue to find the comfort you need during this rough time of loss. The crying, running, music and poetry all help!


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