On Life and Death
I am grieving the loss of two remarkable women, women who radiated and continue to radiate God's love and light in extraordinary ways.
Celeste Wray died September 15, weeks before her 95th birthday. Celeste was ready to meet Jesus, had been fully ready throughout her seven month stay at the beautiful and comfortable Methodist Hospice Residence. As ready as she was to go, Celeste made good use of those months. She extolled blessings upon blessings, stayed informed about the world, and continued to share, in both word and action, her expansive understanding of God and God's abundant love. Celeste was ready. And after her long wait, her final transition came easily, comfortably, peacefully. Celeste slipped into the full brilliance of God's love and light. Hers was a good death. A long life, well lived, well loved, and with a peaceful end.
Grace Phelps died October 2, at the age of 57, following a sudden and catastrophic health event. It was not time for her to go. It was not time for us to let her go. Her death was a rupture to reality, a trauma, an unthinkable end that still makes no sense to anyone who knew her. It makes no sense to me. Grace is universally loved and admired. It's hard to imagine someone being so brilliant, efficient, and accomplished yet still so lovely and easy to be around. She has a beautiful loving family and a wide circle of good, true friends. For me, Grace has been one of my absolute closest and dearest friends, and her death leaves a void, a deep sadness, and a lingering disbelief that she is actually gone.
Hers was a short life, well lived, and well loved.
We all grieve, and perhaps realize there is simply no answer to the question of "why?" - why does death come when it does, too soon for some, too late for others ...
Yet the faith that Grace, Celeste, and I share does give me hope. Their ability to see, sense, and radiate God's light has enlightened the path for me.
One of the prayers in our United Methodist Service of Death and Resurrection says
"O God .... Give to us now your Grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity."
I am shrinking before the mystery of death. Maybe you are too. But I do see the light of eternity. I see it because these extraordinary women not only believed it, they lived it.
For that, and for them, I can give thanks.
Thanks be to God.
-Rev'd Renee Dillard