Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
November is traditionally the month to remember those who are no longer with us.
As we get older it seems more and more of our friends and relatives are leaving this earthly life behind. On Thursday I heard of the passing of an old friend in hospital whilst Friday, All Souls Day, marked the funeral of a neighbour. May they rest in peace.
When a close friend or relative dies the bereavement will create a gaping red-raw wound in our hearts; a wound we feel can never be healed, and perhaps it never does completely. Grief makes us want to look inwards, to nurse the pain of our loss. It’s a very natural response, I suppose, though despair and depression can result. The sterling work of groups, voluntary and otherwise, like the Yew Bereavement Friendship Group at St Mary Magdalene can help in supporting individuals and families through difficult times and emotional loss. But the firm unshakeable rock on which we can rely in these seemingly overwhelming dark times is our Christian faith. By that faith we believe that Jesus’ death on the cross conquered death so that it is not the end; the spirit lives on after the mortal remains have served their purpose on this earth. In his Epistle to the young church at Thessaloniki St Paul wrote: ‘For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NIV). Thus there is hope of eternal life with Christ.
On this earth we can take comfort in the fact that God loves us unconditionally. He shares our pain and grief. He knows us better than we know ourselves and so understands our deepest feelings. He invites us to: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28(AKJV). Be assured that God will walk with us every step of the way, helping us through every emotion of grief, pain and suffering.
Remember, too, that whilst we mourn our loss now, in due time we will be re-united with those who have gone before. St Paul assures us of that when in that same Epistle he says: ‘And so we will be with the Lord forever’ 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV). Thanks be to God.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years