#face for #lookinlent

Saturday

Upon my shoulders I lay the stole

Rough-woven cotton dyed bright blue

The symbols of the faith shine boldly:

A chalice, a chi rho, a city gate, a cross.

This is a borrowed stole

I wear it as we celebrate the life

Of the kind soul who wore it

The soul now passed on to the One

He served so well.

Wednesday

I park the car and walk back down the hill

To where the door swings open

Before I even grasp the handle.

No stole upon my shoulders:

Instead the charcoal grey of my lapels

Bears only one small spark of color,

Red and gold proclaiming

That God has not stopped speaking

And even the finality of death

Is only a pause in the grand sentence

In which God speaks our lives.

Upon the satin pillows I regard the face

Of a man I’ve known for many years

Suddenly diagnosed, suddenly ill,

Suddenly critical, suddenly gone.

How strange the stillness

When what I remember best

Was the sudden smile

And the twinkling eyes

When he’d see me unexpectedly

And we’d catch up on the family news.

I pray God’s comfort for those who grieve his loss,

And I pray new joys for him.

“He’s due new joys,” I say,

And his sister agrees.

Thursday

Once again the charcoal suit.

Once again a door I need not touch

Swings open and I join another line.

Amidst the strangers suddenly

The familiar face whom I’d expected.

It is his sister whose life we mourn,

A woman whom I never knew as an adult –

I recall an adolescent girl

Sometimes amused by her big brother,

Sometimes annoyed, sometimes determined

She will get his goat (and the goats of all his friends);

Sometimes desiring her own space,

Sometimes wondering when she’ll be that old.

I greet her parents, who remember me

(and things about me I do not recall)

I greet her children, and her son’s companion,

I look upon the face that rests upon the satin,

A face that I had never seen in life

As an adult.

Thirty-one years ago, in this very room,

I looked upon the face of another woman,

A face which I had never seen as teen or child,

The face which had looked down on mine

In cradle, crib, and stroller.

Like this young man, like this young woman,

I waited as the line

Of mourners filed through

To take my hand, assure me of their sympathy,

Some family, some friends,

Some much like I would be, decades to come,

A stranger to the son whose mother lies

Where we so wish that she were not.

Saturday, Wednesday, Thursday

In just six days, three times I must #face death

In just thirty-one years, I have long since lost count

Of funerals and wakes, receptions and remembrances.

In just eight days, when Good Friday comes

I will recall another death

Endured by One I worship as the source of life,

Transformed by Jesus into life eternal,

Life redeemed.

A charcoal gray to demonstrate respect

An azure stole to celebrate a minister

A scarlet comma edged in gold

To faithfully declare

That Death’s is not the final word

And at the end of human life,

Our God has placed a comma,

For there is more to come

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