I Was Just Thinking…

Published on Dec 5th, 2018 by wpd-office | 0

Yes, that time of year is here! The temperatures are now getting toward freezing. As I pass the trees along the highways, their leaves are beginning the turn from green to lovely shades of red, yellow and orange. Very soon, those leaves will be brown piles in yards and along those same roadsides. Sweaters are coming out again, and we pull up the extra blanket on our beds. Fall is here. In fact, we got just a slight skiff of snow the other night. Autumn is always a poignant season for me. Even in its loveliness, it is a reminder of winter and the fallow season of dying before rebirth that happens in the spring.

As this season starts, I am reading the book by Joyce Rupp entitled, PRAYING OUR GOODBYES.  This book will be our next study for the Journeyers group in my church.  She also speaks about autumn and what it means to her. She, too, finds it poignant, for autumn reminds her of the many times she has had to bid someone or something farewell, adieu, good-bye. As I began reading, a wave of sadness washed over me. As age advances, I know that I will be saying that same good-bye to friends, family, jobs, interests, possibilities, vigor, and perhaps, even mental acuity sooner, rather than later. And to make peace with those good-byes is the most tremendous task we have in life.

Those of you reading this who are young have probably never given a moment’s consideration to the end of life. And bravo for you! That is not your task right now. The day will come, however, for each one of us, when we come face to face with the autumn of our years. We will even have to contemplate how this earth will be without us. And that is difficult beyond difficult. In fact, I have sometimes observed that it is nearly impossible for any one of us to imagine how the earth might be without us. Then, too, when we come face to face with our own mortality, we have to deal with not only the many good things, the many joys that have been a part of our lives, but we have to consign to the junk heap all the regrets, all of the might-have-beens, all of the sorrows, all of the desperate searches for meaning, all of the wondering if we have lived our lives for something or if we have lived our lives for nothing.

And then, even further than that, when we face our own deaths, we know so little about what lies beyond. I know all about near-death experiences. I know that people who have gone through such experiences are not ever again afraid of death. I know people who said they were visited just before death by their family and friends, who told them it was time to go. I know the words of Jesus, who said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. .. And I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3 NRSV)
However, we still are not sure about what happens to us at death. Death is the final dance, the last words of our loved ones, the walking alone into newness, the packing of the bag to leave forever, the end of our fleeting cloud across the sky, the shedding of the shell of our bodies, the release of our spirits into an entirely new reality, the knowing of heaven (which probably is not gold streets and harps to play!!). We are told by people who have come near to death that they have felt a love so intense that such love was impossible to describe.

So when will the time come that any of us can bid our good-byes to this world? Will it be when life becomes so limited and constrained that we cannot go on? Will it be when we are in pain so intense that we can no longer stand it? Will it be when our minds have become so tangled and confused that we can no longer remember or converse with the world? Will it be sudden, as in an accident? Will it be a long and arduous slipping away? Do we want to be alone? Do we want to be accompanied by those we love? What will make it not only possible but inevitable, and perhaps even welcome that we should find the autumn of our lives giving place to the winter of death?

I truly cannot answer all these questions. However, I believe the words of God. I believe the words of Jesus. I believe the words of the hymn that Natalie Sleeth wrote for her husband:


“In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree,

In cocoons a hidden promise, butterflies will soon be free,

In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody,

There’s a dawn in every darkness bringing hope to you and me,

From the past will come the future, what it holds a mystery,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.


In our end is our beginning, in our time, infinity,

In our doubt there is believing, in our life eternity.

In our death, a resurrection; at the last a victory,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see!”


So for now, I shall live as fully and well as I can, and I commend that same attitude for us all!  And when that end comes perhaps we all shall meet once more in that endless, eternal world where there will be no more mourning, no more crying, and we shall truly realize the worth of each one of our lives! And who knows what our lasting legacy will be!  AMEN


Grace and peace,

Sonja Griffith, District Executive Minister


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