I’m late to post my gratitude journal this week because my brother died.
He was 55 years old and had a heart attack, leaving a wife and six children, five of them still at home.
Such a very few words it takes to say it…so many overwhelming emotions wrapped up in them.
so much sorrow
so much joy
so many memories
so many unfilled blanks–
the empty place at the table
the unread book
the unused desk
the shirt that can no longer absorb his wife’s tears
the arms that can no longer encircle his little girls
the strong dad that is no longer there to teach his boys
the one who his grandchildren will never know until heaven
the great big recliner
with no big man in it
so many tears
but so much gratitude
and the all-encompassing love of Abba
and for my brother:
no more questions
no more pain
no more struggles
only pure worship
and perfect peace.
Gifts that make my life worth living,
gifts that make my moments holy.
Not gifts that I wish for
but gifts that I have received.
Gifts that bring me back
into Joy and Gratitude.
homemade jalapeño poppers
a tipsy-footed kitten chasing a leaf across the deck
chicken mushroom lasagna
a guffawing game of Win Lose or Draw
a salad with strawberries in it
the caterpillar of a milkweed tussock moth
old and new friends sharing dinner and conversation
fresh sourdough bread
impromptu praise on the grass in front of the church
an evening of beautiful communion with the saints
cell phones, which bring good news…and the worst news
many, many embraces from caring friends, sharing our tears
a fifteen year old van that made the five hour trip one more time
many, many friends who brought huge amounts of food
who served that food
who brought a freezer to hold all the extra food
and tables and chairs for all the family to sit
friends who cleaned
and mowed the lawn
and did laundry
friends who loved and cared and cried with us
over a thousand friends who came to give their condolences
a Bible lying open on my brother’s chest, just as if he had fallen asleep with it in his hand
my eight-year-old niece playing with her daddy’s hair as he lay in his extra long casket
the sunbeam that fell across his face before they closed the lid for the last time
but most of all, the incredible peace that has covered my sister-in-law, who is now a widow
Oh, God, you are so faithful, so incredibly good.
Keep her, Abba,
circled in your arms
cuddled in your lap
and borne up on your mighty wings.
Give her your shirt to cry on
and your beauty to exult in
and keep her always in
your infinite peace.
Be a father to the children
give them your love and comfort
answer their questions
and remind them always of your hope.
From the mundane to the sublime, this week has been an amazing experience.
a gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, heart-flooding experience
a joyful, awful, beautiful experience
a holy experience.
And I am so very grateful for it,
even the pain…
because the pain makes us realize how very blessed we are
day after day
by the joys and gifts that our great God continually rains down.
For it is only in Him that we live
and have our being.
Blessed be Thy Name for ever,
Thou of life the Guard and Giver!
Thou canst guard Thy creatures sleeping;
Heal the heart long broke with weeping.
God of stillness and of motion,
Of the desert and the ocean,
Of the mountain, rock, and river,
Blessed be Thy Name forever.
Thou, Who slumberest not, nor sleepest,
Bless’d are they Thou kindly keepest!
God of evening’s parting ray,
Of midnight gloom, and dawning day.
That riseth from the azure sea,
Like breathings of eternity!
God of life the Guard and Giver,
Blessed be Thy Name forever!