Friday, October 19, 2007

For Sunday October 21 - Once Upon a Time

This week the oldest of my mom's 6 sisters died of a massive heart attack. The picture here is an old one of my mom's family - her mom in the middle at her 70th b-day in 1965, and all 7 of the girls gathered round. Aunt Mary is the farthest to the left.
Aunt Mary lived 86 years on this planet. There were great people of the Bible like Abraham and Noah who, the bible says, lived over 900 years. Some Hebrew scholars point out that the Hebrew language isn't concerned with time in exactly the way we are. To say in Hebrew that someone "lived 300 years" might mean that they packed the quality of 300 years into their life. Hebrew is more concerned with substance than with pure numbers and scientific data.
I believe that if we spoke of my aunt Mary's life in Hebrew terms, we might say that she lived 1000 years, because her life was so full and meaningful. Not "exciting" or "wild" but deep and solid and real. She was married to the same man, my uncle Fred, for 62 years. They had an amazing love; the stuff of stories. She raised a son and daughter to be good, productive people. She was a High School teacher for 37 years and was voted to the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in the late 1980's (an honor given to only one teacher each year). Mary was a devout follower of Jesus Christ who never wavered in her faith or her prayers. Though life brought her times of deep sadness, she was faithful and true. She lived in a little town called Baldwin Kansas for her entire adult life. In that little town, there was a Maple Leaf Festival each year. Aunt Mary would bake dozens (according to my mom) of pies each year for the festival to raise money for various charities. This year, in October, she was scheduled to ride in the lead "float" as one of the Queens of the festival - their way of honoring her for decades of faithful service. Instead, she will be buried that day. In her wake, many waves and ripples of faith, learning, strength and love will continue to move outward.
I ramble on about my Aunt because this week's passage is all about God revealing to David that he was a part of a much bigger story than he ever realized. David is humbled and shocked that he would be a part of a plan so glorious and big. He says, "Is this how you normally deal with man?" Wow.

God's revelation to him comes after he has just felt overwhelmed about living in a big palace and not doing anything for God. Maslow would have said that David has reached the top of the hierarchy of needs and that he then looks beyond himself for meaning. Whatever the reason, he looks to God and discovers something huge. Something great. I don't know that we all get such a glimpse of how we fit into God's story. But the Story is real. Our part is important, God says. Yes, he could use others if we opt out, but if we say, "count me in" he will in ways more amazing than we might be able to understand in this life.
My Aunt Mary lived her last few years under the shadow of increasing dementia. It was a sad part of her story, but one in which family saw Uncle Fred love and care for her with such tenderness that there was meaning even in that last chapter of her life. This week as I attend her funeral and talk with family I haven't seen in years, I'm looking forward to hearing about ways she fulfilled her role in God's story -ways I've never heard about. Maybe next week I'll report some of those to you. In the meantime, remember you're a part of a much bigger story. - Curtis