Mourning


 

Well, they certainly did not ask my permission. It’s all just as well, because if they had I most certainly would not have given it. But really! It is just barely the middle of August, there is still a lot of Iowa summer left, and those silly birds have already pulled up stakes, loaded their wagons and headed off to that mysterious place where Robins go when they leave my town and my trees.

 

Not that they usually ask for my permission for anything they do in ‘my town’ and in ‘my trees.’ The males arrive in late winter and set up shop. One of the first things they do is decide who gets the choice tree outside my bedroom window; decide who gets to sing me his morning song; decide who gets to wake me each morning and set up my summer schedule. I mean, pretty presumptive of them!

 

And so, he sits there and does his chittering song at the first hint of dawn, faithfully, every morning, rain or shine; and totally irrespective of any mood I may be in. I mean; what does he know about my desire to sleep another hour on some given morning. And then, after singing his silly song, (faithfully, every morning, rain or shine,) one morning, in the middle of August, with a lot of summer still left, he just quits, cold turkey, becomes a snow bird, rounds up his family, and is gone. One morning, in the middle of August, the window is open, the fan is off, the birch tree is still there, the sparrows chitter, they chitter all the time, it means nothing; the mourning dove still sits on top of the light pole across the street and coos to his bride, he coos at any hour of the day; but My Robin’s song is gone. I wake up thinking I must have slept through his alarm but after three mornings in a row I know the truth, the voice of my assigned robin is no more.

 

I keep wondering, is this how life works? We arrive without requesting, or receiving permission either, we set off on the stage of life and say our piece, we play the assigned parts: And then some morning, with us thinking there’s still a lot of summer left, we find the curtain has dropped, our voice has been stilled, and we go off to our “long home, and the mourners go about the streets.”

 

The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved. Jeremiah 8:20

It is one of those abnormal days that normally come to my small town.

Before the dawn I slip the bonds of my bed and merge into the darkness outside my front door. Southwest of us there is the constant strobe from lightening – a fitting sequel to yesterday’s un-normally pleasant fall day. Before the dawn – lights come on – briefly. A working mother hurries her two across the street. She pushes them; she pushes the fob in her hand; car lights blink twice. Half a block away a porch light also comes on; a woman kisses a man in a doorway; the door closes and the light goes back out. The lightning keeps flashing.

The early mornings in my small town have sounds. Three miles west of me a train signals as it approaches a crossing; down on Interstate Eighty, whining turbochargers kick in and ram air into the gluttonous throats of big diesel engines; a Killdeer makes its strident calls as it flies off somewhere down my street; in a field southeast of here an enormous reaping machine, behind some piercing lights, goes after several more early morning acres before the lightening yields to the rain.

The dawn is closer now; so also the lightening; so also the rain. The associated thunders now mix with the other sounds around me. The train now comes to my crossing, announces its presence, and rumbles past. The breeze picks up and the first drops fall; I move my contemplations inside my dwelling. I move to safety – I move, anticipating the normal. The thunder now rumbles beyond me also and soon the sun comes out. I sit in fellowship at my breakfast table and raise my orange juice glass. L’chei-im – I toast for life.

It is an abnormal day in my small town. Somewhere close to me someone will not rise with the dawning. Somewhere, the struggle continues for a few more breaths, a few more moments with loved ones, just a few more acres in the field of life. And then the gentle breeze brings on the rain. Somewhere the “grinders cease” but the rain will not. Two men will be together in a field, one will be taken and the other left. It is what normally takes place some of those early mornings in my small town.

Jonas Borntreger
10/22/2012

Marlene woke up yesterday morning quietly singing a Bill and Gloria Gaither prayer/song. I love my partner’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I am blest by the way she often ministers to my greatest need. (Even if she, for the moment, detours where I was going with this week’s Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.)

Our community is in mourning. A prominent person somehow committed a ‘comedy of errors.’ Six lives were ripped out of the fabric of who we were. By the time the last act was finished there were no curtain calls and a vast audience was left holding the emotional bag of pain, sorrow and confusion. Not personally acquainted, we were yet somehow affected. Somehow, the tentacles of grief radiate outward until they reach every one of our lives. Paul said that no one ‘lives or dies to themselves.’

 

To speak or not to speak! And if I choose to speak, must I choose between words that are harsh and words that sound like Pollyanna?

 

And then comes the gentle reminder: “There’s no other, we can turn to…”

 

Gentle Shepherd


(Written by: W & G Gaither

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and feed us,
For we need,
Your strength from day to day,

There’s no other,
We can turn to,
Who can help us face another day,

Gentle Shepherd,
Come and lead us,
For we need you,
To help us find our way.

A TIME TO MOURN

A Personal Position Paper on Funerals, Cremation and End-of-Life matters.

Several days ago someone in my family e-mailed me about attending a “Celebration Service” where the deceased had been cremated. He described it as a “refreshing” service; a “different experience;” and was relieved at not having to be involved where one experienced the morbidity of “looking at the empty shell of a body.” (more…)