Wednesday, March 14, 2012

DREAM: LIFE SWALLOWS UP DEATH...REMEMBERING BEVERLY...February 28, 2009...Reflection : March 14, 2012

This was a good bye dream  that I felt  nowhere ready to accept a month after Beverly died.  

The  scene is an up close of a large strong steel bridge. I can only see the opening of it, sort of looking up hill at it and  so close I cannot see where it is going or  what it's  crossing  at all. It is a sunny day with fluffy white clouds.  I apparently have been walking beside Bev as she rides a bicycle toward the bridge with a  little covered wagon behind it . She is dressed casual and wearing a ball hat.  She looks healthy and happy.  The wagon  is filled high(with her stuff) and a white  canvass covering  is neatly over it all(shaped liked a regular large covered wagon of pioneer type). The picture, if it were painted, is her entering the bridge and I am back behind her(not in the pic) beginning to turn and go back the opposite direction by myself.(That is my saddest part. I am turning back the opposite way she is headed.) I  suddenly turn, as having forgotten something, and yell out  to her asking,  'Did you listen to the 'heart of the fighter'? (this was her favorite Landon Saunders audio tape. She used to listen to it regularly. How I wish I could find a copy.) In this scene she is  waving her  left arm and nodding  'yes' without looking back at me.  Then I say, ' O, you are the 'heart of the fighter' aren't you?'.  It ends with her distinct and totally appreciative and amused laugh(at my comment) as she rides away.  I don't know if you can sense the emotion this dream still resurrects. It becomes less painful and more inspiring with time. This is the dream that came and that I carry daily in a reserved place deep within me....   I so wanted her to turn around and come back.
Ash Wednesday, A Christian service that marks the beginning of Lent in early Spring, became a meaningful time of worship to me after becoming a United Church of Christ pastor. Our Ash Wednesday service stressed  that God raises up from the ashes human situations that have the qualities of death all over them, eg the fear, aggressiveness, domination, greed, and covetousness that so easily steal life from us. Also  resurrection is presented as the 'new creation' and 'abundant life'  in the here and now as emphasized in Paul and  the gospel of John. As  ashes are placed on participants' foreheads the pastor says, ' You have been baptized into the death of Christ' and they respond, 'all things have become new'.  It also stressed that a frequent  biblical description of the most dangerous sin is not personal but communal.... that we accommodate human injustice, discrimination, abuses and  environmental destruction  as a continuing aspect of  communal and national/world  life.  

I'm not sure that we mortals should consider physical death as an enemy(at least not nearly as much as the spiritual death  mentioned above.). The death  I think is most represented in the N.T. are the kinds of death that take over the human capacity to live spiritually  while we are physically alive. It is not essential to me to think that Beverly has to reappear as the individual she was to us in this life. If I did not value her walk in this life enough to consider that plenty  to keep me always amazingly grateful and her memory alive with me then I feel I have failed in my valuation  and appreciation of her  life. She did not  insist in living personally the other side of her physical death though she did believe that in some way, beyond our imagination, life continues on and perhaps even returns. I think that spiritual attitude is what made her so value  and enthusiastic about every moment of  life.  I think she was content to let the 'other side' remain just as much a mystery as to from where and how she entered this life in the first place. My dream of her implies that mystery by not showing what was being crossed or what was on the other side. What is important is to be conscious of the mysterious change and to desire to go gratefully, graciously  and assured  into that mystery.  I  think I am now content also with such a humble approach to these things. Is this not a part of accepting that we are 'dust and to dust we return',  but what a glorious transformation  and grace we experience in ourselves and in each other while we are actually  'living and moving and loving and having our being'  in God in this earthly life ?  That is more marvelous to me than any assurance of personally continuing after I die. I simply do not know nor is it  anymore of significant importance.

I do see that  an individual passing through the gate of death as very significant spiritually. I relate it to the 'narrow gate' that Jesus spoke of. It is so narrow that we do indeed, if still blessed with consciousness, go alone with only the assurances of divine and human love to sustain us. I was impressed with how Beverly approached  and accomplished that final human task.  It showed the dignity that is present in we mortal humans of dust. Reading I Cor 15 I'm reminded that it is  highly symbolic and metaphorical language culminating with the assurance, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where is the victory of death? " I  have experienced death being overcome by life in my friendship with Beverly.  I feel no need to ask God for more than that. I know she is gone as I have known her. I still wish she could come back because I miss the continued unfolding of her life. But the flower fully matured. Nothing was left undone or incomplete that was needed, though at first it surely appeared that she had not been given enough time here.  I still for  moments nearly panic when I know she will not be here in the flesh anymore. But the life that unfolded in her as I and others knew her is a life that her death simply does not destroy or have any victory over whatsoever.  Paul makes full sense to me when I realize the spiritual/symbolic truth  of his language. Jim H.

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