These thoughts were stimulated first by my reading of Dr. Miller’s writing “A Crack is How Light Gets Through”, and second by the impending death of Pat Johnson.
“Separation from Those We Love”
Nothing can fill the gap
when we are away from those we love,
and it would be wrong to try to find anything.
We must simply hold out and win through.
That sounds very hard at first,
but at the same time
it is a great consolation,
since leaving the gap unfilled
preserves the bonds between us.
It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap;
God does not fill it, but keeps it empty
so that our communion with another
may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.
Letters from Prison
Our immediate family is dispersed far and wide across the United States and Canada. It began grand scale when my father retired from Fisher Body and my folks moved to Arizona in 1972. Their move was like a “death” to me. No longer could we visit spontaneously on the weekends. It was a four days drive one direction to their home in Sun City. I began reading articles and books on death. In one article was something close to this statement….”When death has taken someone you love, use the time you would have spent with them, doing something in their honor for someone else.” Thus, began my journey in Christian Education. My folks had given me the gift of the church, an arena beyond our home, where I began to learn and experience God’s love in community, so it is there I searched.
I became the Director of Christian Education at Grand Blanc United Methodist Church. From that church, through the invitation of Dr. John (Jack) Jury, I went to seminary “just for the fun of it” for one summer. The rest is history.
In April of 1990 I received a phone call from my father saying that my mother had died that morning. (Totally unexpected) That night I awoke about 3 a.m. and remembered a writing by Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled “Separation from Those You Love”. (Posted above) In it he states that when someone dies there is an emptiness that we experience. He suggests that we fill it with nothing, but leave it empty. Go to the empty space and meet the person from whom we are separated (by death, distance, etc.) from time to time. That night I did so, and in language I can describe no other way: I met my mom, we talked, and “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) flowed through my being.
Our children and their families live in Oklahoma, Canada, Missouri and Michigan. Our siblings live in New York and Maine. Family reunions are not easy to put together, but we keep trying. (I admire those of you who do this on a regular basis). Thus, I have often said, the church is my family. And all of humanity is loved by God, near or far, known or unknown.
That is what drives me, what empowers me, that is my passion to create spaces where the love of God can be shared, become “known” and lived out in our lives each and everyday. Tears are not eliminated, pain is not unknown, struggles need to be worked through, seasons of bleakness are experienced, but not outside the realm of God’s love that dwells within and surrounds us each and everyday, whether we acknowledge it or not. As a Christian I continue to learn through the study of the life and ministry of Jesus, the living Christ. (But in that I do not exclude God’s revelation to other cultures and religious expressions.) But, as Marcus Borg’s puts it Christianity is my home.
It’s great to be a part of the program staff here at Nardin Park. I am thankful for the meaningful ministry that has transpired over the years in Children’s Ministries. I offer myself to be another link in the chain of care and passion for an area where I feel God’s calling has led me at this time.
Dedicated to the love of God, through Jesus the Christ who is recorded in Matthew to have said,” Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matt. 19:14)
p.s. Thanks Mom and Dad