Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our treasure

Last night on the way home from church, Beve, E, her friend and I got to talking about Beve's mom.  Grammie died when E was just 7 years old, so, although she remembers her, much of what she knows about her Grammie are other people's memories.  And it made me think of what I most remember about Grammie:

Beve's mom was the first person I ever saw die.  Beve and I had taken the night shift that night.  After everyone else went to sleep, Beve sat on the couch next to his mother's hospital bed, and I slouched beside him half dozing, while he channel surfed.  Strange, old movies are shown at 2 am, I do remember that.  About 4 am, Beve's sister, father and Grammie's best friend, Laura, all stumbled out into the family room.  Soon after, Glo said, "This is it," and we gathered around Grammie's bed as she took a breath, seemed to hold it, then took another.  And that was the last breath.  The silence in the room was unnerving for a moment, but I found myself saying, "Thank you, Lord," over and over.  We quickly awakened the other brothers and spouses, and joined hands around the bed to pray.  To pray their mother on her way.  Then Laura broke out some chocolate--Grammie was a chocolate addict!--as a way to celebrate that life even while her body cooled.

Two nights earlier, Grammie had removed her wedding ring and handed it to her husband.  But her watch was still on her wrist, and her clothes still hanging in her closet.  A ham was delivered to the house that day--a honey spiral Virginia ham she'd ordered for a big family gathering.  We laughed through our tears as we ate our feast that night, thinking only Grammie would have the foresight to plan a meal for the day she died. She really was a domestic goddess. 

But what struck me then, in that first Grammie-less day, is the same thing I recognized the day my dad died.  Her toothbrush was still in its holder; Dad's slippers were exactly where he'd kicked them off by his closet.  Grammie took nothing with her when she died.  Nothing.  Dad's desk was covered with unfinished projects.  They even left their bodies in the last bed in which they'd slept. 

I think of this often, really.  Particularly as we begin the wait for the birth of Jesus. The world tells us to grab all we can, to desire more and more and more.  Our culture presses us to accumulate, to believe that bigger is better; tells us that we deserve 'things', that we're worth it--whateve 'it' is.  But you can't stand at the bedside of a person who has just gotten up and left their very body and utter such cultural 'truths'.  Because they just aren't true.  Nothing manmade goes with us when we die.  Nothing made of cotton, metal, or earth.  In fact, the only--ONLY--thing that lasts, that goes to heaven with us is what God has made, what He
indwells.  Not what we can hold in our hands, but what we have in our hearts. 

Eternity within us, this is what last.  Not what education I had, but what wisdom He grows in me.  Not what jewels I wear, but whether I'm becoming a jewel in His crown.  Not what books I've read, but where I fit in His book of Life.  Not what wounds I bear, but what wounds He bore for me.  Not the life I've lived, but His Ressurected Life lived out in me.  Where is your treasure? we're asked by Jesus.  Where is it?  When the last moments come in my earthly life, I want to thrust off this world gladly, certain that I already have the best...the best that is yet to come.

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