"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

19 September 2010

Death be not Proud

My beloved daddy passed away this afternoon while we were on our way to Texas. We are stopped for the night before continuing in the morning.

It's not real yet, of course, and I know the grief is going to be crushing at some point. But I know this too: death indeed has no reason to be proud, because he is nothing in the face of Christ's victory on the Cross.

I will see my daddy again, and meanwhile he is breathing freely once more, no longer bound by arthritic and stroke-riddled limbs, able to speak clearly his praises to his Saviour. What joy!


Lutestring said...

I love you.

predictablepoet said...

So glad God and His promises for your Daddy are eternal!

Sending love-

Beth Impson said...

Thank you, Monika, Megan!

Anonymous said...

Oh Beth! I am so sorry for your pain, but joyful for your father. I will pray for you during this time...Allison

Fr. Bill said...

Dear Beth,

My first encounter with this sort of thing was with my nine-year old daughter, 13 years ago now. Since then, I've also sat beside the death beds of Mom (2002) and Dad (2009). Because we came here back in 1988 to care for Barbara's parents, I've been a close observer at each of their deaths as well. I've preached the funeral homilies for all five. These, then, are my "credentials" for offering the following observations that may prove useful to you later.

Yes, there will be some tears. But crushing grief? You may be surprised.

I trust you will find that for Christians the deaths of their Christian family members is decidedly... what? It's not what you may expect, and I'm certain it's not what the world expects. Indeed, it can be exceedingly bizarre from the world's point of view.

I remember smiling when my godly father-in-law died on a bright, clear Sunday afternoon. My brother acknowledged -- sheepishly -- that when I reached him at his son's baseball game, to tell him Dad had died, he also broke out into a big grin, which did not go away as he continued watching his son's team win their game.

I had begun that conversation with a question: "Where are you now?" And, when he told me, I proudly announced "Well, that's great, 'cause Dad just hit one out of the park." He knew immediately what I meant. He tells me the first and abiding feeling was joy.

So, don't feel weird (as our inevitable entaglements with the world will tempt us to feel) when you experience solid joy deep down in your bones at the death of a Christian family member. It's the end of his race. He's past the finish line, in the faith. Cheers are wholly appropriate.

And, don't feel weird when those who cannot understand look at you with puzzlement, or confusion, or (the worst) condescending 'understanding." Understanding is exactly what these sorts of people lack. The veil is still over their eyes, and they cannot see, much less understand, what it means for death to be vanquished.

You do understand. And I've learned that funerals are a wonderful experience for Christians as they join together in speaking a resounding and joyful "Amen" to a life in this world that has come to its close; and also a joyful "Amen!!" to a life in the world to come that you eagerly wait to join.

Sarah said...

Hi, Beth --
I'm John Acker's mom, Sarah.

May the Lord's strong Presence be obvious, His strength yours, and His peace abiding. Death is real, but it is temporary for His own. Praying safety and blessings as your extended family gathers to celebrate your father's life.

barn swallow said...

My very dear teacher,

I know God will continue to be near you and your loved ones, whatever the coming days bring.

I love you and will be praying.

Publius said...

Words sometimes are powerless to stave off the pain that comes with death, but praise God that your father is in His presence. I saw this a few days ago and have been thinking about you and praying for you since. I hope you and your family are still able to rejoice amidst the grieving.

God bless.

Beth Impson said...

Allison, thank you, dear heart.

Bill, words of wisdom are always wonderful. Thank you!

Sarah, I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Elena, my dear, I read your poem about your dad to Mother and she loved it as much as I did. It was a source of comfort for me on the trip. Thank you for sharing it and for your prayers.

Michael, thank you so much, dear friend.

I will post about the trip in the upcoming days when I've caught back up with school.