Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Those who are not alone have no fear

I have been thinking of my friend's
Mother-in-law who is
being given her last glances by her loved ones,
kissed, laid to rest on Friday.
I've been thinking of my Oma.
Of the conversations I had with my friend
about death.

How Mr. Husband and I walked the halls of
the Holland Home for the last time
when my Oma died.

Conversations with my friend...
how to break the news to her three year old son?
We talked about how dying is not dangerous
or something to be afraid of for us,
for those who hope in Christ's mercy. 

I told her of the book everyday saints
and how Fr. Raphael speaks of
the wonderfulness of dying in the bosom
of the church.
How her son's Grandmother died in
the arms of the church.

Years ago,
when I was new to Ottawa,
one of the first sermons I heard my spiritual father say
was how St. Nicholas had come to the dying man
whose funeral they had just been to.
How St. Nicholas comes to many who are dying
to bring them home to Christ or
to bring them back to earth for
the rest of the work they have to do.
He told us that we do not die alone.
That St. Nicholas, the Mother of God, they will come.
Our Guardian Angel is with us.
The prayers of the Mother of God
to ask her Son for mercy for us
do not go unheard.

My Mother remembers my Oma singing the
Psalms by heart, the beloved Psalter,
in Dutch as she mopped the floor.
I remember her repentance and tears
and how she served others,
her husband, her 8 children, her many
grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her Dutch soup with meatballs.
Her peeling potatoes and putting on coffee.
How she did not knit on Sundays to honour the Lord.
How if she could not make it to church
she would watch the service on TV.
How she and her husband, my Opa,
read the Bible and a devotional after all three meals.
How God and prayer was part of their daily lives.
My Opa played the organ in church,
directed a choir.
I remember him playing hymns at home
on a old table piano that somehow
was still like an organ...
My spiritual father used to tell us that
the fear of death and of being alone in death
caused many people to sin.
How the devil likes to tell us that we are alone.
The best news is that the devil always lies
and that Christ never lies and
promises to never leave us,
that His Holy Spirit is there with us.

One of my friends told me how
one of her relatives saw Christ
just a month or so before dying,
her family praying in her room with her.

God knows the beginning and end of our days.
We are in God's hands and
He is with us when we die,
even if it seems we died unnoticed or alone.

My Oma was buried with a flock of relatives
all of her children by her casket.
I and Mr. Husband were not married yet
but we both were there and
we prayed for my Oma's soul
with faith and hope.
My cousin is a minister and he prayed the
final benediction over her as we lowered her into the grave.
In the church we do not die alone
but with the mercy of God,
the prayers of the Church,
the prayers of the Saints.
The best thing my friend told her son was that
her Grandma also was in heaven with Jesus
and that one day we will go home to Jesus too and that
is why we go to church, pray and seek to be faithful...
He wanted to go to heaven right then.
Children often understand how
things are and where our home is immediately
without question
and with truth that is always spoken in love.
A woman who we all loved in my beloved Ottawa parish
died some years back; the church was so full of people
and flowers, oh the flowers were overflowing.
We learned on her 5 year panakhyda that
she had such courage and had
so vanquished the fear of death
that she would show people where she was
to be buried and now is.
On Pascha I always think of her
wearing white in church.
How she was there though in great pain.
How much we still miss her.
One of her adult godchildren once told me that the
Bible studies she did were so alive.
When I had the interview for my first job in Ottawa
she asked me when the interview was
and told me she would pray and that I would get that job.
And I did get that job
and it was a trial by fire yet I had this peace in it.
I know it was her prayers.
When it was her 5 year panakhyda I remember how we all
felt here there and that the feeling I had at the
panakhyda and memorial meal after her burial
was the same sense I had 5 years later at her 5 year panakhyda.
They are with us,
those who die in Christ and we meet them in the church.
In the church the living and the dead are in one church
one Body, one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
They are especially there for us on Pascha
but other times as well.
I have one living Grandmother.
I know my Grandfather who cared for her so much
is praying for her and that she is still being taken care of.
My Grandfather was involved in the building of houses
for much of his later life and my Grandmother
now has a rare corner apartment with extra windows
for which she is so thankful.
That my Grandfather always housed his wife with such care
and deliberation, it was no surprise that my
Grandmother is still being so cared for.
And it points to what we must remember.
Christ promises to never leave us.
Christ promises that He is preparing a home for us.
He promises no matter how great the suffering,
He is there and death is no longer to be feared
Christ who watches the fawns be born
is watching over us when we die.
We are never alone.

1 comment:

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Beautiful thoughts, Elizabeth.

Your Grandparents were truly wonderful and inspirational examples to your family and everyone who knew them.

My prayers for your friend....