The wonderful songwriter, Bruce Cockburn, upon learning of the death of a fellow musician wrote:
There you go
Swimming deeper into mystery
Here I remain
Only seeing you where you used to be
Stared at the ceiling
‘Til my ears filled with tears
Never got to know you
Suddenly you’re out of here
Gone from mystery into mystery
Gone from daylight into night
Another step deeper into darkness
Closer to the light
I found the piece above while preparing for a memorial service. Although I didn’t quote the words in the service, I did use them as my prayer for preparation as I wrote the meditation. Cockburn captures both the mystery of death itself and the emptiness that we feel when one is taken from us. That emptiness might be described as the God-shaped hole within our souls. It is the place that is often filled with questions and doubts and fears and only God really knows what else.
That void is also a place where it is possible that God may be ready to do something amazing in your life. Do you remember the first story of creation in Genesis chapter one? The author tells us that the earth was a formless void. That strange land of nothingness becomes the very place where the creative activity of God begins.
There are many times, when facing the death of a church member or dealing with a serious transition or wrestling with a dramatic change, when I pause and ask God, out loud even, “Where are you? Are you paying attention? Do you have any advice? Can you see us?”
The answers? Silence, mostly. But every now and then there is a moment of grace, a step closer to the light. Following a funeral the other day a congregant said, “It’s all mystery but mystery is another name for God.”
There are times when I’d like something a little more concrete but in the long run the quiet assurance of a colleague, the warm hug of a friend, or the soft spoken word of mystery is more than enough.
Grace and peace to you,