Tag Archives: peace

The peace that passes understanding…

This week has been one of the roughest from the standpoint of ministry I’ve experienced in a long time…

Two beloved members of our extended church family were called home…. One as a consequence of beautiful old age, the other because of a senseless mistake on a roadway on the part of another driver.  People were not only killed others were injured…  and one of our most beloved young men was missing for the greater part of a week…

Yet, a sense of peace filled the service tonight as Pastor tied up the frayed ends….. it was Pastors grandmother who died of old age… This was one precious woman very, very like my mother in faith and life.  My mother left to be with the Lord two years ago.   How can a Christian find peace in the death of a loved one.  You can when the loved one dies in the hands of Jesus Christ. 

The night before my mother died, she was fighting… she seemed to be struggling in agony… she could not stop moving… could not stop looking around her bed for what turned out to be me… my heart was breaking for her… she was blind so she could not see me in her Earthly eyes… in excruciating pain from every bone and muscle when she moved… but she could not be still… her moanings were to find her beloved son… me… and I was right there.. but she was still unsure….

The doctor in the ER had lost his own mother a few weeks before… He called me aside……

He told me “you may have to give her permission, she is fighting for you, her only son, her only child”.   Reflecting I realized the times she had expressed her concern for what I would do when she passed away. 

So my sweet mother struggled to live at 92 with her broken body for me….

A few moments later after a very intense but short prayer I went to her beside…. I had been up 48 hours…. I leaned over her bed, took her hand… she became calm and looked toward my voice with her blind eyes….

“Mom, if this is too hard, fly home… fly home to Daddy and Jesus… don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright… you’ve taught me everything I need to know….. Just fly home sweet heart if all this is too hard… I’ll be alright”…   I leaned further placing my cheek against her tear-stained and wet cheek…. I lingered there breathing the shimmering air  with her…. just living with her for the last time…. reluctant to leave even though she would be with loving relatives… so I could rest to prepare myself for the rest of the fight.  I then kissed her.  Let her hand slip from mine… when I looked down she had a slight smile on her face… I was suddenly filled with peace beyond understanding…

When I walked away from that room I knew that I had spoken to her for the last time in this life…  And I left my precious mother … the most important person in my life right then in loving hands and the hands of God….

The next morning as I was getting ready the call came.  The nurse told me that I needed to get to the hospital quickly.. I told the nurse….. “just tell me”… “please”…The nurse said your mom is almost gone… she has moments…. if you can get here quickly you may be able to see her alive… some may find it strange that I did not get into a big hurry… for I knew….

You see we have a small dog… a dog that mom loved to sit and pet…and the pup loved her…. as I finished dressing I heard her whining and barking… ..When I walked out into the living room Princess our dog was running in tight circle looking up, as if she looked up into someone’s face… then she rose up on her hind legs and leaned on something invisible… still… for moments…

“Mom are you here..”  I said through my tears, then peace began to fill me… an acceptance I couldn’t explain….. Princess dropped down and I felt wrapped in a warmth like a beautiful blanket as I stood there…. “I love you mom”…. then the feeling changed… I felt a warmth full of love.  Princess stood silently looking up… The love stayed…

I knew my mother had started down that beautiful roadway through green fields to Heaven… I started driving to the hospital and the cell rang…. It was my wonderful friend Connie… she said “She’s gone Honey, She’s gone”..  I said… “I know, she just came home to say goodbye”.   And I believe she did before she went off to heaven down that beautiful road…

When I arrived and looked down on her Holy Body… I knew Mom wasn’t there…..  I knew she was truly gone…. but the love stayed….

And over the next few beautiful sad days I had the peace that passes understanding… because of the Holy Moments God allowed me to share with my precious mother. 

I will have more to say about that wonderful peace in future blogs… God Bless you who are reading this blog… May you too know the peace that comes from knowing your loved ones are in the loving arms of Jesus Christ….

Tá cion agam ort, a stór mo chroí

I love you…Tá cion agam ort … ancient, beautiful,  my ancestral language… the Irish language.   

A language shared between an American boy… a French girl…  two human hearts caught in love between each other… and music… and God.

Thankfulness for a language… yes…  the language of our love and our life… not as much as the language shared between our eyes… between our hearts… our lips…  

How precious were the hours I listened to her bring life to an ancient violin…an instrument made in love several hundred years before…  love in sound… love disguised as soft music floating through the cold shimmering air above the great Puget Sound…   the golden light from inside the old cabin giving illumination to her long blond hair…  time held still

She gave me life… the heart beating in her living body each day giving me love… and in giving me love… giving me life…

I am so thankful… thankful that I had her warmth for a while… thankful that I saw the love she gave me freely in her perfect eyes… the love I knew was mine as she touched me…  for there is a touch that only those in profound, holy love will ever know…   there is a love so deep that it will never leave… I am so thankful that years and years can be lived and loved in the briefest of times… the feel of her hand as she caressed the hair from my eyes as we stood in awe of the wind coming off the Olympic peaks… as we held each other on cliffs where the massive Pacific waves crash into the headlands of America for the first time after their long journey…. Cape Flattery… Forks…  where I saw the golden setting sun glow in her eyes…

She stood with me… made me feel such strength as I’ve never felt…  made  me love as I never had before… made me love my God as I never could before…  I saw God in everything she did… the way she cradled a childs’ face…  the way she gave love to those who wanted just to be near her… to feel her presence… to touch her…

The way she worshiped God… The way she lived her faith…

The way she spoke of me… the way she held my hand as we met others… the way she came to me… how she made me feel and be so much more than I was… the fear she took from me…

Thankfulness… that I could be loved by a radiant being such as she… that I could stand in that radiance for a while… the gift she gave both of us in a little boy…

Thankfulness… for how she held Joel… for the first moment she gave him to me… a love too deep for tears… a time when I was young and and she made me feel strong to protect them both…

Thankfulness …  for time… though short… yet so long… 

Thankfulness… for a world seen in beauty with a woman who lifted me to wonder at the marvel of how such love, such beauty could be… for music made more tender and pure by love for one so tender and pure… for giving me her pure soul as she stood near me drawing music from that beautiful instrument… giving me the passion to return what she gave to me through the musicians who so lovingly let us touch each other in the music they made…  and who gave a us another way to express our love to one another.

Thankfulness… for when I first held her, I could then make music I could not begin to understand before… to have lived enough through her to be able to somehow show an orchestra or a chorus to turn a phrase just so… so the truest, purest meaning I could hear inside my heart could be sent out into the living air…  for just a moment to connect our music to the source of all music…

I am thankful to God for you, a Godly woman, the greatest gift…

And as I said on that beautiful cliff side overlooking the Pacific on that last day…

Laura, Tá cion agam ort, a stór mo chroí….

Laura, I love you, love of my heart…

Hope, like the gleaming taper’s light,
Adorns and cheers our way;
And still, as darker grows the night
Emits a brighter ray.
From The Captivity (act II, sc. 1) by Oliver Goldsmith

not sure how this goes…..

Are we ever sure how this goes…. as I listen to Calling all Angels…I am so moved by the line “Are we ever sure how this goes”….

Walk me through this ….  Don’t leave me Lord….

They are leaves in a powerful stream…. kids…. just as I was….

What saved me … a mother who loved me beyond all reason… a father who had to leave far too early…  powerful men who led me when I needed a strong lead to follow….

  How do I help save them…. lost kids…. who have no idea they are lost…. or how lost they are…..

How do I communicate love to someone who hasn’t known love…. the true love that builds strong walls against the tide of darkness coming in so fast…. How can I know when I am right…. is it peace?   Is it logic?  Is it my own human reason…

Their youth is slipping away like a flower fading… the time when they might be malleable…. when change can happen… before habits are to hardened…. to much of their “person”…..

How do I tell them that the right choices will solve their problems when they don’t want to hear about the right choices…..

How do you learn to make the right choices about the small things…. and the eternal things when you have no real home…. no one who can really show you how to live? 

How do you instil vision?  How do you instil beauty?  How to you show what honor is? 

The greatest desire of my heart right now it to find the ways…..

So I think, and I pray and I listen…

I look to His example, how would He have done this?   What words would He have said to the kids in my classes…. and in my ministry….. Lord I need your guidance, your example and your wisdom… I cannot do this myself….

 

What He did was to courageously step into the teeth of the storm…. which is what I will do tomorrow…. and the next day….

To teach as best I can…. by example….. by love…. by building impenitrable walls when I have to… 

But, to follow his example I must…. because all these kids need Him….. Let him fill me…. 

Because I’m not sure how this goes…..

I’m not sure how this gods…..

Thankfulness and grace

I turn into the driveway…. all is dark, quiet… the world at peace…. I turn off the engine…. silence

No sound of war… or of crying… no sound of gunfire… of violence… of death…   I look at my home… now going on 15 years being my home…  and I love it… and I am thankful for it… it is there before me in the peace of night…

And I think of the grace that allows me to have it…  the phrase that goes through my mind on this Thanksgiving eve is how did I come to this home… this life… all the blessings in the last year when it seemed that I would sink below the waves at any moment… that a hand reached out to me every last-minute… often unexpected… every time unasked… but a hand came. 

Tomorrow I will feast… too well… in the warmth of family, in love, in joy… what did I do to deserve this wonderful life… a home, more than enough, wonderful and meaningful work, a soft bed, warmth when I need it, cool when I need it… in a moment I will open the door and a little bird will screech its welcome… a loving, devoted dog will jump with joy…

There will be music if I want it…. silence if I want it…. sound if I want it… water when I want it… food when I want it… presently because life continues as it does… with life… and with death… I will be alone for a time… the one I took care of for so long is gone… out of pain, out of sadness… living in a home God created for her where she is living in perfect joy… 

But there are others… a loving family around the world… electrons away from me…  all I must do to hear their voices is cause electrons to move along wires… invisible signals through the air… and they are with me… 

Good friends invite me to join their family celebrations… members of my family call me to come offer thanks with them… I am not alone… I am surrounded with love… with friendship… with caring… so I will be with my family because I need to be with them… what a blessing to be able to choose between offerings from those who love me…

Then I have been given two great churches in which to worship and to serve… to minister… one small… one large… one in the country… one in the city…  both places where I meet God… Both places of great joy and friendship…

When I drove into my driveway… I was 30 minutes from the place I have been given by grace to work… where I have friends I have known for greater than half my life with whom I work… with whom I teach….

The building in which I work is new… state of the art really…  and I think of something else….

That I am one who has in a world where so many have not…. so many will not lie down on soft bedding tonight… millions will not be able to eat their fill… more than there fill tomorrow… millions who could not walk in a miracle where we have ever kind of food to choose from brought from every part of the world… 

And I have to ask why?   ….   Why was I born here in this most magnificent of countries?… Why was I born to the parents I was given?  …. Why do I have friends who are actually friends, who care, who would mourn, who did mourn with me a year ago when my mother slipped away into eternity with the Lord…

Why was I born here and named John?   Why was I not born in another country to parents who would beat me, where I would not have had enough to eat, not enough water to drink, nothing to learn or to hope for and named John?

I was given grace.. it was amazing grace… I was given all of this… why?  Just so I can be thankful?  Just so I can celebrate as across the world 18 children will die each minute as I will laugh tomorrow with my family….

And I think that I was given this so that I could give it away…  to those who are given much, much is expected… 

Father am I giving much as I have been given much… As I give Thanks am I pleasing you?  Do I love my neighbor as myself?   Do I really?  Will you be able to say to me “Well done my good and faithful servant”?  Will you say it?  Will I deserve it?   Oh, Father why am I not the child in the pictures with the swollen stomach whose equally weak mother brushes away flies from my near lifeless eyes….

So how do I thank you father?  Do I thank you in eating myself so full I must rest?  Am I honoring you?  And are there ways I can still honor you?  Father, what can I do? 

When I thank you for the food I will eat tomorrow will I be really pleasing you Father?  Will you look down on us and say well done? 

Oh Father in this season that starts tomorrow help me find some way each day to help someone…  so I can thank you for the opportunity… help me to feed the hungry… help me to clothe the naked…. help me find homes for the homeless…. Help me to find a way each day to do something that will help someone…. to love them as I love myself… for in that is true Thanksgiving…. giving with thanks for what we have been given.  

I lay here on the couch with the little dog laying on my chest feeling so blessed but also feeling that I have been given much and so I must give much… as I’ve done before to find that there was great joy in giving freely and without reservation.  

Please dear Father give me a thankful heart filled with

thankfulness and grace…..