Almost exactly a year ago I was on my way to a little town in West Texas for the first in a season of funerals on my husbands side of the family. Peace and funerals aren't usually words that I put in close association. But when I got home and tried to come up with something to write about peace for the second week of advent, this is what came out.
(now for the recylced part)
"4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The small house was filled with people. As usual, we were a bit rowdy and loud, even on this grim occasion. Owen ran circles around the living room. Tess scowled at anyone who tried to hold her. Too many people were in the kitchen and I was on at least my second cup of coffee.
But the little quiet old man in the room managed to get our attendtion because he wanted to say a blessing.
And we were silent.
And he thanked God for his wife of 66 years. He thanked us for being there. He thanked God for the food that had been prepared.
Even if we the cinnamon rolls were a little burnt.
His voice was barely over a whisper but we hung on his every word.
And he started to tear up. And so did the rest of us.
But he thanked God for his wife.
That he would bury in a few hours.
There was no anger or doubt in his voice.
And that is peace.
To be able to pray and thank God in that huge cloud of grief.
Over breakfast he would tell me that they had a routine.
That every night starting about 5:30 that they would play gin rummy.
And have a few drinks.
And start dinner.
And go to bed.
Every night for as long as he could remember.
And now he’s not so sure what to do.
Every night without her.
Later he would seem so sad and so fragile as we shivered at the graveside.
His wife, was my husband’s grandmother.
And I had only met her a half dozen times,
But tears still slid down my face and I watched his shoulders shake as he cried in the pew in front of me.
But I kept remembering his prayer at breakfast.
And I know that this was a man he knew and trusted in the Lord.
A man who wasn’t sure how to get through the next evening.
But could still pray.
And that is a peace that transcends all understanding.