Last night we entered the church’s season of Lent–a period of 40 days before Easter when we consider the frailty of human life and the ways we have turned our hearts from God. As our community of faith gathered in the sanctuary, I was particularly mindful of the brutal honesty the service proclaims: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
I needed no such reminder this year. My mother, who along with my father is a member of the congregation, had recently suffered a heart attack. I realized this year that “her episode” was more than enough reminder that she is dust and to dust she will return.
I’ve always known that, of course. But knowing it is one thing. Staring it in the face and tracing the cross with ashes on her forehead is something altogether different.
In some ways, I have faced that brutal moment before. I have, after all, traced the sign and uttered the words in services past for those I love. For Alayne, for Rachel and Sarah, and even for my parents in years past. But this year was different. Perhaps I was different. And so I took the easy way out. I told my colleague Ann that I would be taking the side opposite my family–whichever side that may be.
The truth is, while I know that she belongs to God in life and in death, I need her to belong to God in life a while longer. To be sure, I will commend her to God in death. Just not yet.