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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ten Years Ago Today... Black Valentines Day

I hesitate to post this because I don't want to ruin anyone's Valentine's Day. I know for most of you it's a lovely day filled with romance, flowers, chocolates and celebration. Unfortunately our family calls it Black Valentine's Day because it's the day our son Sam was stillborn less than a week before his due date. We try to honor his memory in some way every year with flowers in church, or by giving money in his memory. This year marks the tenth anniversary of his passing and I decided it was time to take a look again at the few things we saved in a memory box. I re-read the homily from his Memorial Service and remembered how wonderful and how comforting it was, so I am sharing it here. All of us have lost someone and can be comforted by these words. I hope they help all of you in some way too, and I hope that the Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor will not mind my sharing it.

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Homily by the Rev. G. Porter Taylor (now Bishop of Western North Carolina) given at the Memorial Service for Samuel Robert Holmes on February 22, 2002 at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia.
We live in a fragile world
                Things break.
                Plans don’t work out
                Life has too many unexpected turns
Then there is the fact that we simply live in time
                Things are over before we’ve started.
                Time runs out—and we are in the next chapter before we’ve even dealt with this one.

To be human is to be in time in a fragile world.
As a result, to be human is to deal with radical incompleteness.
As I thought about today, I thought of some words from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;
but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part: then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

We are gathered here to mourn all that could have been. We mourn that we will never know about Samuel Holmes. All the days and years taken away. Death is always a thief, but sometimes the theft comes much too soon.

This is one of those times.

So we do what Christians have  always done—
Gather as the people of God—in all of our incompleteness—
to see some reassurance that there is a realm where all is complete—
and there are at least moments when that complete realm touches this incomplete world.

We are here to hold hands with Jim and Beth—
                and to weep the common tears of grief over the incompleteness of Samuel’s life
                                and of all our lives.
For on this side of Paradise we all see in a mirror dimly.

We gather as people of God have always gathered—
                To feel God’s compassion—
And to lay our bewilderment and frustration and anger and sorrow in God’s hands.
                To take all our whys and what ifs and place them at God’s feet.

But as Paul also says in his letter—We do not lose heart.
Because we know…. we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

We gather here today to sing Alleluia—because one day the incomplete will end.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.
We sing Alleluia because in God all comes to its complete and rightful end.
In Paradise—all those questions get answered—

                What would have happened if I had taken that road instead of this one?
                What if we had the time we lost?
                What if….What if…..What if.

We will not get an answer as to why Samuel Holmes is not here.
                We will not get an answer on this side of Paradise to all our what ifs

All we get is the promise—
                One day our incompleteness will come to an end
                One day we will be with our Lord in Paradise
                On that day there will be time—
And on that day we will see all those whom we have lost.
On that day we will see our Lord and Samuel Holmes face to face.
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2 comments:

John said...

Beth, Jim, and Emma. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for not losing heart.

We may all have loss, but yours seems so unfair; so much more than I can understand. I can't imagine the what ifs you must have asked over the last ten years.

It comforts me that you have your faith. I too know you'll see Sam again standing with the Lord.

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful message. I don't know how you feel but I do hope that the black (deep mourning) will turn to white (sure hope) knowing that you WILL see him and be with him again and for a longer period of time than the brief time this Earth provides. He's with you in spirit and closer than you know. {Hugs}