We've had a really good week. Last Saturday, March 28th, we went to Gastonia, NC for our Goddaughter and her sister's double birthday party and had a lot of fun. It was good to be doing something on Mary Grace's one month delivery anniversary. We did stop by the cemetery as we were leaving for Gastonia; Robert was finally able to see the grave marker. It was nice to be around close friends that day, although I do have to say that I did feel a little distracted from the party while thinking about Mary Grace, even though the birthday party should have been a good distraction for me! We spent the night there and went to Mass the next morning and I thought I was going to go crazy when the pastor started his homily on the topic of "death". He started out "When we think about death....we think about a door being closed and something being completely over." Are you kidding me? This has to be the homily as I'm a month into Mary Grace's death?? But as I continued to listen, his homily turned out to be quite good.
The gospel reading was the story of the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. The pastor went on to explain that half of the miracle was Jesus raising Lazarus from death (of course) but the other half was that "Lazarus in the face of what looks and feels like death is willing to believe that maybe it isn't as final as other people think." He gets up when Jesus calls him and believes that Jesus is giving him the possibility of new life.
He went on to explain that we are Lazarus. We face death and darkness everyday, not only physical death, but sin, hardness of heart, etc. And there are two points he made:
1. "When we are in darkness, Jesus will always show up and be present to us. We can find light even beyond what looks and feels like death."
And 2. "As people of faith we must listen to Jesus' voice and do everything we can to accept the gift of new life Jesus always offers us."
Number 2 was VERY profound for me. Death is not the end even though we focus on it as an ending. But it is "part of a process that brings us back to life"! Death was not the end for Mary Grace, and her death is not the end for me either. Jesus is offering me new life beyond her death and beyond the death(s) that you have experienced too (be they the death of a loved one, or a sin that you struggle with, or not loving others the way you should, or battling an illness- whatever your "death" may be, we have to "lay claim to the new life that lies beyond the death we have experienced" as the pastor explained.
Wow...what an amazing new way to think of my daughter's death...as a new beginning not only for her (I was already "there" in my thinking, ie., she's in heaven) but for me. It was just really kind of a revelation for me...so I just wanted to share that the homily I thought I would despise, turned out to be just what I needed to hear.
This is the link if you want to listen to it:
Isabel and I continued on to Hendersonville to visit my family, while Rob went back to Raleigh to work. And we've had a very nice stay this week. There's just something so comforting about being home, seeing familiar faces, being surrounded by love. We have been to morning Mass twice this week at my "home church"; we got to see and thank many people who have been praying for us, and it was an encouragment to me to hear that people were being touched by the blog. Thank you all for your continued prayers!