Pentecost 91

Pentecost 91
My Psalm 91

Trusting Through the Grief

It was Robert Browning who wrote:
“The center-fire heaves underneath the earth,
And the earth changes like a human face,
Thus God dwells in all.
From life’s minute beginnings, up at last
To man, the consummation of this scheme
OF being, the completion of this sphere
Of life.”

Once again the death of an entertainment industry legend is diverting our attention to their passing. Once again we are grieving together. Once again the passing was someone whose life was best known for making the world laugh. In this particular case, it was a woman who made a fortune turning tragedy, both large and small, into comedy. Are the two emotions really just opposite sides of the coin of life?

There is a somewhat famous story, anonymous in its origin, that goes like this: A little girl and her father are walking along a path when they come upon a bridge over a small river that must be crossed. The footbridge is narrow and old so the father turns to the little girls and explains his concern. “Hold my hand tightly, sweetheart,” he instructs. “I do not want you to fall into the river.” The little girl looks up at her father and replies: “No, Daddy. I want you to hold MY hand.” Puzzled, the father asks her what the difference would be in his holding her hand as opposed to her holding his. The little girl explained her reasoning. “If I hold your hand, I might let go if I got scared or slipped. If you hold my hand, I know you will never let go, no matter what.”

It is difficult when going through difficult times to remember who is holding our hand. We tend to focus on the pain, the immediate feelings we are experiencing. It is almost impossible to see the Creator dwelling in the midst of our grief, our angst, or our anger. Some might even ask “Why believe in a spirit that allows such negativity, such sorrow?”

The adage that the butterfly thought its world was over as the cocoon began to die only to find itself reborn into a beautiful new being is familiar to most people. What exactly is it the butterfly feels, I wonder. Recently, I visited with a group of lovely people an acquaintance whose time would appear to be brief on this earth. For many of us, it was the first time in her home and we expressed wonderment and delight at the loveliness of it. I noticed she seemed a bit humored at our compliments. Afterwards, I realized that we were there because she was so lovely yet seemed surprised to find her home was. Of course, such an interesting, delightful person would have a delightful and lovely home! Were we really surprised or were we avoiding the real situation, the meaning for our being there? Where we place our focus is often the crux of the matter.

I have no idea what a butterfly feels or thinks but I do think there is trust in the process that the butterfly has. Certainly not every cocoon lives. That is the way of the natural world. Butterflies, like most insects have a four-stage life cycle. They go through a metamorphosis three times, egg to larva to pupa, before reaching adulthood. In 2002 the “National Parks” magazine noted the decline of the Karner Blue Butterfly, a butterfly found around the Great Lakes region of the USA. IN fifteen years, the population numbers dropped by ninety percent. A small bluish butterfly, the Karner has two hatching periods, one in April and another in July. Wildlife suppression is the leading cause for the decline of this variety of butterfly but not the only one. The Karner feeds on the lupine plant and as we improve our knowledge and prevention of wildfires, we also decrease the lupine plant population, giving the Karner nothing to eat. The wildfires we fear actually clear away trees which shade the area and prevent the growth of the lupine plant which needs a dry, sunny area to grow.

Our visit to our friend was as much for ourselves as for her. She is a person of unbelievable faith and always left a trail of peace and security wherever she walked. She continues her life in that manner. We took this opportunity for one more chance to hold her hand and garner some of that strength and faith. We said a corporate prayer and held hands, letting the touch of hands and spirit give all of us strength for the next metamorphosis of all our lives. Rosemary Ellen Guiley says in her book “Wellness”: “When the body ails, prayer restores the soul.”

In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond. We need to hold the hand of the person we love rather than expecting them to hold yours. In faith, our Maker is always holding not only our hand but our beings, though we sometimes forget that. Though the metamorphosis is neither always desired nor easy, he/she never lets us go but rather leads us to new heights, using our grief to fly us to greater heights. We are always in the cocoon of His/Her love.

My Psalm 91

Lord, some days suck.
Sometimes I think I have moved to Grumpy Town
Or maybe Pain City.
My heart beats with tears.
Help me remember you are with me.
Help me learn from each experience,
To soar in my purpose.
Help me to remember
You and your angels are with me.
I am never alone.

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