Despite being an introvert, my fondness for conversation is growing.
With the recent passing of my father, these past two weeks have been filled with conversations. Some focused on memories and recollections. Others were teary-eyed offerings of sympathy. And many began with emotion-choked words that quickly slipped into a gentle, silent embrace that communicated more than words ever could.
The day of my dad’s funeral, in the quiet of the church foyer I conversed with a friend. As she held my hand and fixed her eyes on mine, she spoke to me. Her words were purposeful. Piercing. Spirit-filled. Wise. She drew me into a sacred moment—a moment that has stolen my thoughts often in recent days.
Through that simple conversation, I was given a profound perspective on death. With her verbal and non-verbal communicating, my friend led me to an understanding of how we lay the dead to rest. As the sun streamed through the foyer’s glass doors, her soft, careful, intimate words brought life to Ecclesiastes 7:2—“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (NIV)
As my friend and I talked, music played gently in the auditorium. I watched my mother worry her overly used tissue. One of my children nestled close to my side seeking the comfort of my touch. My father’s body laid an arms-length away. I was in a house of mourning. And it was wonderful.
The words of God, the conversation with my friend and the atmosphere of a small church foyer coalesced for a few surreal moments. My soul was shaken as it kindled the hope that God reveals Himself not just in life, but also in death. For the first time I felt a desire to mine funeral grief for bits of redemptive treasure. Funerals need not be empty goodbyes. They are opportunities to rescue beauty and truth from the grasp of humanity’s most painful, broken inevitability. The death of my father was a slice of history from which I can take something and keep it alive through my own living.
My heart is full. And heavy. Before, during and after dad’s relocation to heaven, my family has been surrounded and sheltered with love. Countless expressions of grace have bolstered our faith through this trying time. All we can do is respond with deepest gratitude.
Through my father’s death, my longing for restoration has intensified. But in the waiting, I rest in our Great Hope, Jesus Christ. And, thanks to a friend, I will engage funerals with expectation. Yes, I will grieve. I will comfort. I will cry. I will love. But I will also beg God to show Himself in fresh ways as I sit in a house of mourning.