Friday, July 14, 2006

tribute to Joanna

my soul was empty
my heart ached
sobs wretched my little body
I dreamed you had died
leaving me behind

yet the morning light cracked my teary eyes
only to find you in my embrace, body and breath
because your face was peaceful
because your face was sweet
I did not wake you to tell you I loved you

in life we held you so tightly
in this life that is death
for life is but walking death
and only death births eternal life

though I miss you
though I hold you tightly
though I believe in Lazarus
I will not wake you to tell you I love you

and because I love you
I give you to whom you long for
your Creator, your father, your lover, your friend
he alone is your shepherd
in Him you shall have no want

we who are cloaked in darkness
we who’s substance is merely a dream
we give you to your bridegroom
who has veiled you in joy, peace and understanding
he has robed you in His life
he has received you to himself
for he alone desired you for his bride

we deliver you
from this veil of darkness
from this shadow of death
from this world of dreams

we who held you so tightly
we unclasp our fading arms

we release you
to the arms that will draw you close
to the lips that will kiss you with breath
to the passionate love that will sustain you

we give you to LIFE
we give you to Christ
on this your wedding day

At times funerals are fertile fields to sow new seeds—to speak truths into listening ears and open hearts—to change old patterns and bring in new ones. I remember having a profound sense of humility and purpose come over me as I wrote the words of this poem before my sister’s funeral. I spoke them with prophetic proclamation, across a pulpit no woman had ever spoken across before. I felt as though the Spirit had engulfed me and I was no longer speaking. Death would not have the last word! I collapsed afterwards. Every bit of strength was used up. Today, women mourners read their poems. They also take their turn at turning the soil into the grave. Denominational divisions are set aside as each speaks of a common hope. Death is a time to rethink participation in life.

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