The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

November 27, 2008

On My Mother's Death

My mother died three weeks ago. She would have been eighty-six at the end of the month. She had been frail for two years, but nothing indicated that the end was so near.

Heather and I were away visiting our oldest daughter when my sister phoned to say that our mother was dead. It was November 11, Remembrance Day. We caught the 10:20 ferry back to Vancouver Island. At 10:55, the captain announced that, "In respect for Remembrance Day, at 11:00 this morning, all onboard services will be suspended and the engines will be stopped; we invite you to join us for two minutes of silence in honour of those who have died."

At 11:00 a long lonely blast sounded on the ship's whistle. The engines on the boat went silent; everything stopped. Heather and I sat holding hands and crying in our seats as the universe stopped for two minutes in honour of those who had died. It felt pure and good to just sit with the sadness, to acknowledge the empty space my mother's death has left and to allow the pain just to be. No one was there trying to fix anything; no one needed to say a word. We were just together in the space of grief, allowing the tears to flow.

The next day, I met as I do every Wednesday morning with a small group for our 10:00 meditation service. In the course of that service we read a short passage of Scripture, sit in silent prayer, and end with a half hour of discussion. We have been reading slowly through the book of Psalms, one at a time, whichever Psalm is next. I don't edit them; I don't read ahead. The only input I as the reader have is to occasionally stop half way through on a longer Psalm. On this Wednesday morning, twenty-four hours after my mother's death, we had arrived at Psalm 35. I read the first half of the Psalm and stopped at verse 14 with the words,

I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
bowed down and in mourning.

Again, the silent presence that had touched me on the ferry the previous day, stirred in my heart with comfort and strength. The force and power of life was present. God spoke in my heart reassuring me that I am not alone in a dark uncaring universe. There is a place for my sadness, a hand to hold my grief. Death is not the final word. There will always be the goodness and grace of God at work in the world all around me.

The Sunday after my mother died, we welcomed a new baby into our midst. Then, six days after my mother's death, another member of our church community died, and a week later another. All around I am surrounded by the coming and going of life. And I know it is all held by God. I know it is all part of God's good creation. Life goes on, continuing to unfold. There is movement and in the midst of that movement there is a Presence I can trust. There is a reality that transcends both life and death. It is to this reality that we are all headed. If we open our eyes, we can see this Presence now. We do not need to wait until we join those who have gone before us and get to the other side to know that love is stronger than death and the light is greater than all the darkness we might ever know. We can live today in that light and know that Presence surrounding our lives.

My mother died in the faith of Christ. She died confident in the reality of God and trusting in that power of love she knew in her life. I pray that I may live in that same truth and be carried in the end into the fullness of that Light that is God

1 comment:

Dave Adams said...

Thank you for sharing this. I can't imagine the loss you feel, but I'm heartened by your faith and joy whenever I see you. I pray that when I must go through these tribulations that I can experience the consolation and love of God that you remind us of every week.