And Another Thing…

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“In the midst of life…

…we are in death.”

Book of Common Prayer, The Burial of the Dead, First Anthem.

I don’t like to dwell on death any more than you do, I suspect. But this past weekend it has been unavoidable.

Saturday afternoon I attended a memorial service for a classmate who took his own life. He was 33 and had struggled with health problems as well as alcoholism. I have never stood in his shoes, and it is not my place or my interest to judge him. I have never attended the funeral of someone who committed suicide, but to go out that way compounds the agony of those left behind. His parents, siblings, and wife all looked completely defeated. Like all of the other attendees I shook their hands, muttered something about how sorry I was and how much I liked him, and left the meeting with a numbness in my heart. I hope that all of us can learn to keep our eyes and ears open and see the broken around us, and offer the helping hand that might make a difference. Believers, please remember this family in your prayers.

His sister read the lyrics from the Grateful Dead song, “Ripple.” I’m not a Deadhead (although I know quite a few) but something about this song has always stirred my heart. I have reprinted the lyrics below.

 

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

 

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

 

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

 

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

 

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

 

But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

 

Lyrics by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia

 

I received word this morning that Bob, whom I have mentioned before (here and here) passed last night after a brutal battle with bone cancer.  Words fail me at this point. However, I will say that I am grateful that the leadership of our congregation is finally willing to engage the doubts and struggles that this is raising among us. I pray (and ask you believers who read this to join me) that nobody will fall away over this.

__________

On an unrelated note, I won’t be around much in the weeks to come, if at all. Things at school are heating up as I try to knock out my research project, assignments for other classes, and line up my internship for next year. I will return, but probably closer to late April or early May. Till then, be well.

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7 Responses

  1. Kathi says:

    Wow. Lots to deal with there and thanks for sharing your struggles/thoughts with us.

    Praying for you!

  2. Trey Morgan says:

    My heart hurts for you. And, I’ll miss your wisdom in your absence. Hurry back.

  3. Jerri Harrington says:

    Hi, Mike,
    I’m so sorry about your friend, and I share your grief over our dear brother Bob. I didn’t know Bob had died until this afternoon. I was up during the night praying for him. I don’t think those prayers were wasted, even though Bob was already gone. God knows Bob’s dearest wishes were for the well-being of his family and that his life (and death) would be glorifying to God. I have been praying that God will work through Bob even in his absence, to bring healing to our congregation and greater faithfulness into my life…and all of my brothers and sisters’ lives. I got this note from Becky Duckworth, Sarah Bergquist’s mother, after I sent a note out to the prayer team. I think it will encourage you as it did me and several others I have heard from:
    Dear Jerri,

    Just wanted to share with you the beautiful thought I was so blessed with this morning.
    In Hebrews it says we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses as we run the race
    to glorify God and eventually to receive the crown. Our dear Bob is about to finish his well
    run race!!! There have been fewer people I have known who have glorified our Lord as this.
    Now Bob is going to receive the winner’s crown. Don’t you think that Bill Edwards,
    Sarah, Helen Baither and so many others will be there at the finish line to greet him? Like them,
    he will be in the stands, cheering us on as we continue our race. He’ll probably have a front row
    seat with Moses and Paul.
    As very difficult as it is to let go, our promised hope and the One who gave His life so we have
    that hope becomes even more precious.

    Love, Becky
    Mike, you are in my prayers. You have valid questions. I have them, too. But even my questions aren’t too big for God’s love and grace….and He can handle the sorrow and loss that we feel in Bob’s death and the pain that we feel for Tresa and their children. Bob would want us to hold onto the fact that God is love and He is always faithful. I’ll miss reading your blog. Hurry back–you have a way of getting my old mind to think! 🙂

  4. Adam G. says:

    Death has been on my mind this week. My father passed away very suddenly three years ago on January 7, 2005. This weekend I’ll be taking my family to visit my mother on the farm where I was raised. This will be my first time back there since he died.

    It still doesn’t seem right for him to be gone. As though a hole was ripped in the universe.

    Today it dawned on me that if we arrive there Saturday, then perhaps on the afternoon of Sunday I can visit his grave. Easter Sunday. Seems appropriate.

  5. preacherman says:

    Excellent post brother!
    I loved it.
    Keep up the great blogging.
    I hope you and your family have a great Easter weekend!
    🙂
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  6. craig hicks says:

    I’m praying for you.

    craig

  7. preacherman says:

    I pray that all is well.
    You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

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