(August 1, 2017)
The cicadas are singing, the birds are chirping and, some squirrels are making the chirring sounds they make when they chase each other. I’m sitting in one of our parks along the river. Actually, it’s a golf course, but not a terribly popular one. Monroe County, where Rochester is located, has some of the nicest parks around.
So here we are. The beginning of August. And also the start of a relaxing month for me. Or so it would seem. Much of the month I’m on vacation. I’ll go to a conference next week and then have three weeks to myself. Yet already I have a list of things I want to accomplish during that time. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)
There’s something so relaxing about just being outside, listening to the sounds of nature. I’m reminded of all the summers of my life: growing up on the lake, 20+ summers at the Music camp that my family owned, another 17 summers working at a women’s music festival every August, and of course the perfunctory swimming, camping, bonfires, Smore’s, and sharing all of that with people I love.
At the end of this week I will bury my brother-in-law. We were never very close, and I always regretted that. My sister was almost 20 years older than I, and he was another 12 or 13 years older than she. But he was a good man. A chemical engineer who helped make the world a better place. A man of integrity and deep commitment. A man who, out of his unselfish love, adopted my niece and nephew and after my niece died at age 39, continued to be a dominating force for good in the life of his grandchildren.
In his marriage to Nancy, he gave her great joy and stability. Things that had been liking in her first marriage. There was was a deep love, and after she was gone he continued their world travels that they had started together because he wanted to see those places “for her as well as for myself.”
Lately, I find myself thinking about life – and life beyond this life. One of the realities of having a congregation where the average age is somewhere beyond retirement, is that I have to deal with loss ( and pending loss) a lot.
It’s not that I have any questions about what comes next. I have resolved those issues time and again in my mind and heart. But lately I find myself really looking at how the world continues after someone has gone. I said to one of my friends who was dying just about a year ago now, that I’ve come to think of life in this plane as some sort of gelatinous medium that I could find in a petri dish. When we die, it’s as if we have been extracted without disturbing the world surrounding us. But the echo of our life remains. It remains in those who were touched by us, those who lived with us, and especially – those who loved us. Those memories echo through our lives wherever we go.
It was in 1995 that my niece, and 12 days later her mother, my sister Nancy, both died. They both lost their life to breast cancer. It was an awful year! But their echoes Live on. They vibrate through my life. There are times when I feel as close to them as when they were standing next to me and we were all laughing together.
And that is who Jesus is to me. He echoes throughout my life. He echoes throughout history. His teachings reverberate in my soul. So when people ask me what I mean when I talk about “the living Christ” that’s part of it.
Today must be Senior Men’s Day at this county-owned golf course. Those who are walking are walking slowly, and even the electric carts seem to be driving cautiously. And I wonder how many times some of these men have walked these fairways or lost balls in the water traps. I wonder how many memory echoes of people who used to golf here there are that I’m not aware of. And then I wonder how many millions of other things there are around me that I haven’t a clue even exist.
And still the cicadas keep singing. And the beauty keeps emanating from the trees. And the shadows move and dance as the branches rustle in the breeze.
How lucky I am to be here on this August morning, living in the memory echoes of God’s love.
Have a good day everybody.