#love

"There you will see him."

Last year, I wrote about my experience of a woman at the Easter Vigil that I saw whose head was bald.  Here is the link to last year’s blog post:

http://www.markabrewer.com/blog/2017/4/16/death-has-no-power

She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had lost her hair to chemotherapy.  She was, and still is, the image of Easter new life.

I saw her again last evening at the Easter Vigil.  Curly, dark hair now adorns her head. She also shared with me that she doesn’t need to see her oncologist for another 6 months!  What a difference a year makes!

She, once again, becomes the very presence of death and resurrection, of loss and new life.  In the gospel of Mark, chapter 16 last evening, we heard a man speak to Mary Magdalene:

“You see Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been raised, he is not here.”

The woman I saw a year ago is no longer here.  She has been transformed, healed, made new. She is resurrection in the flesh!

She reminds me that death (and diagnosis) are not the end.  She reminds me that we are to lean into these moments that challenge and frighten us with great courage, strength, hope and faith. She reminds me that, in moments when I feel I can’t or don’t have the strength to do something, or because it feels too overwhelming, much waits for me on the other side, beyond the fear and mountain that sits before me.  Instead of retreating and going back, she and Jesus remind me that I need to look for new life and hope in new places….within myself, within my faith, and within my world. Looking in the same old, same old only leads to limited sight and a dark tomb. We are called to look beyond, into new territory to find that whom we seek. My church friend sought new life on the other side of cancer, and she got it!!  Jesus sought new life on the other side of death, and he got it too!

Let us be reminded that if we are looking for hope and new life, we need to look and seek for it beyond the empty tomb.  Sometimes we need to go through the depths of darkness in order to see the light anew. It’s always there for us. Waiting to be discovered.  Calling us beyond that which is right in front of us. Thank you, my church friend, for once again being that resurrection presence, and pointing me beyond the tomb to a place filled with hope, light, new hair, and new life!  A place where Jesus lives.

Easter Blessings to you!

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Betty Jean

Betty Jean Clark is the mother of my dear friend from college, Jim.  His mother is, first of all, Italian.  Enough said.  In addition, she is generous, compassionate, funny, a great cook and baker, and loving.  She is also sacrificial.  She would do anything for her friends and, most especially, her family.

I write about Betty Jean because last Wednesday, February 14, Betty Jean died suddenly, at the age of 73.  It broke my heart to hear of her death.  I ache for my friend, Jim and his family, especially his father, Jack.  Betty Jean and Jack were high school sweethearts.  She was a cheerleader.  Jack was on the basketball team.  I believe they even got engaged on Valentine’s Day.  So, the day has significance for Jack, and how heartbreaking it must be for him.

Last Wednesday was also Ash Wednesday.  A big day in the Christian and Catholic world!  It’s the day we have ashes put on our forehead and are reminded that to “dust we shall return.”   Betty Jean lived and died on Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day.  A day this is all about love.

Just as we are reminded of the deep and sacrificial love that God showered upon us in Jesus Christ, last Wednesday takes on even greater significance because of Betty Jean.  She was Christ in the flesh.  She was a person who gave of herself.  She was a person who lived life fully, especially on the dance floor with her beloved, Jack!  She reminds me of how precious life is, and how quickly the light can be extinguished.  She reminds me that every moment is to be lived deeply, passionately, lovingly, and with great strength and courage.Just as Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a season that reminds us of just how deeply our God loves us, Betty Jean’s death is another reminder of how God has deeply loved us...through her life.

In the gospel reading from John at her funeral this past Monday, we were reminded that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”  Betty Jean is showing me a whole new way to live life, especially in this season of Lent.  To live it by following the way of Christ - with passion, grace, vitality, great food, family, friends, and most of all, love.

Mrs. Clark, until we see each other again, may God embrace you with the same great love that you loved us with in this life.

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