On Heaven's Shore
On Heaven’s Shore
Whenever my baby girl sees even a hint of anger in my eyes, she sticks her fingers in her ears. It is not that I will yell or scream at whoever is causing the offense, it is simply that she cannot stand listening to me be upset. No matter how mad I am about whatever it is that happened, this always makes me smile. I take a minute to tell her it’s okay and that she can take her fingers out of her ears. How alike we are. I only wish I could stick my fingers in my ears and make the bad go away.
Tuesday morning, as we stood by an open grave, the cold wind whipping through the tent, the nice guy helping us bury my Dad said, “There is no wrong way to do this.” I couldn’t help it-- I had to tell him the truth. “Oh yes there is a wrong way to do it!”-- I blurted while pointing my finger toward my Mom’s headstone. I stuck my fingers in my ears for ten years trying to block out the pain of her death and the hurricane of problems it caused.
It hit me that day that it felt like I was standing on the shore of the Red Sea with impossibility staring me in the face. The letting go of the box that held all that was left of him...the saying goodbye...again...the cemetery...the dirt...the finality...the hurt...the memories...it all felt impossible. So I asked the Lord to part my sea, to make a way where I felt there was absolutely no way I could do it again.
And He did. It was simple and hard. I did the things that came to mind, the things my heart needed. I didn’t want to have to look back and wish I had done this or taken that, so I did what I needed and documented it all.
I was awakened in the night and was told deep inside to place a copy of the original “goldfeather” story in the ground with my Dad. Funny how death can make us see things in a whole new way. This piece was written with an emphasis on the Lord’s provision and protection as we go through the hard times here on earth. But as I read back over it, I found that my eyes wanted to bask in the last lines of Hope provided for those who finally get to be free from pain and in the arms of their Father in heaven.
“It is there, on the muddy bank, where I first see the wings, so majestic and full of glory with a million billowy feathers gently blowing in the breeze. He calls me to Him with only a glance and I run with wild abandon. I fold into those wings in sheer and breathless adoration. I fit perfectly like my body has already worn in a cozy spot, all the right feathers crinkling in just a way that the wing is formed to my curves. I am finally here and I know I can finally rest. It is over.”
My dad was a quiet man of few words, but I do know that He loved to read my writing. He had a little book in which he printed out and placed all of the things I would write and he would read. One of the last things he said to me a few days before he died was, “When I get out of here, I want to come see all of your paintings.” He told me my Mom would be “tickled” at my work. I envisioned him coming to my house straight from the hospital and getting to see all of the things I was working on, all of the paintings of my heart. He never got to come.
My Dad is happy. My Dad is not in pain or worried about the things of this earth. My Dad climbed out of this river that is life and ran into the arms of a breathtaking Savior. He fit perfectly. He had a cozy spot all worn in from resting in the promises of God here on this earth. It is over for him and just beginning all at the very same time.
We ended our time together at the grave with my Dad’s favorite hymn, Amazing Grace, just like we did that last day he was here on earth. My final thought as I stood and watched the dirt being poured back over the grave was how in the world can I give Hope when my own heart is so full of hurt? Honestly, all I could think about was how I wanted to die first before there were any more funerals. But God parted my sea today. He continues to part the sea for me to be able to do death differently...do pain differently...do life differently. Even in my grief, I could still see Hope off on the horizon. I knew it had never left. And it looked a lot like a circle to me.
I used to give away copies of the goldfeather story to those who were hurting before my Hope Circles came along. If you would like to read all of the original goldfeather story just click here http://www.goldfeather.org/goldfeather-story/ I hope in some way it will comfort you in the troubles of this world. But now, after this week, I also hope it gives you a tiny glimpse into the joy of arriving on heaven’s shore.