2 November 2011

Crossing the threshold of life

I've been meaning to properly blog for a while, but haven't had the mental space to do so. Tonight, I'm at home, small daughter is asleep, and hubby is out helping someone with some computer glitch. I'll have the house to myself for a while, methinks!

Lots of things going on since my last proper post, when NZ had just won the Rugby World Cup final (by the skin of our teeth, but one point is all it really needs, hmmm?). Some things of note: my sister and brother-in-law took hubby and I to the Royal NZ Ballet's Meridian season of The Sleeping Beauty last Saturday night. We had spectacular seats, 3 rows from the front, and it was beautifully done. Freshly choreographed for this performance, with amazing sets, and some quite innovative stuff (like the two courtiers for the King and Queen being played by people pretending to be cats - very very funny). Unfortunately, the ballerina dancing Princess Aurora looked a bit overwhelmed by the role (we had one of the understudies) - however, the Lilac Fairy, the Prince, and Carabosse were all amazing. It was the first time I'd seen a full-length ballet live and I loved every second of it.

I've also been struggling with a nasty nasty cold for over a week: the sort that starts with chills and fever, and sticks you with a grotty congestion for ages.... I gave in to it fairly quickly as I knew I was supposed to be flying to Hamilton on Sunday night for work and didn't want to fly feeling really sick, so ended up spending Thursday and Friday last week in bed (keeping in mind I knew we had tickets to the ballet and wanted to be well enough to go to that too!).

Work in Hamilton was good, and even better that I caught up with a colleague I don't see nearly enough, and an old university friend I see even less - although less than impressed that I couldn't get a flight out on Monday and had to stay over a second night. My last trip to Hamilton was a bit of a disaster so I was pleased that things went better this time. I was delivering a new version of our contractor management course that I rewrote recently, and my colleague was sitting in to see how it went as it's a very different approach from what we've used in the past.

However, what I really want to write about tonight is something that happened at church on Sunday. We were celebrating All Saints' Sunday (although technically All Saints' Day isn't until 1 November, we keep it on the Sunday closest), and I was reading the epistle (from 1 John, one of my favourite letters) and praying in the chapel with anyone who wanted it. One of the older ladies in church, who I only properly met a couple of weeks ago, came in for prayer. She told me about three friends of hers: two who have recently died and another who has been told she has only days to live.

Just before we prayed together, the organ and choir were finishing their motet, and it had this amazing fanfare on the trumpet stops. We waited until it was over as we wouldn't have been able to hear each other anyway, but what was beautiful was how it all seemed to fit together. The lady told me her two friends who had died had both been glad to go and she wasn't sad (even for herself), and she was praying that her dying friend would go with courage. We thought about how the fanfare on the organ was like the fanfare that we'll hear when we finally go to God: such joy and delight that we will stand in God's presence and be embraced fully in God's love, and it suddenly struck me all over again how important this all is. Faith is where the rubber meets the road, when we live and when we die, when we hurt, when we cry, and when we rejoice. Going to church is only the practice (sometimes not very good practice at that!) for what we do every day, and more importantly, for how we handle the good and the bad bits, the living and the dying.

This lady herself is probably in her eighties or nineties and death is very much on her mind as well, but she said to me that she knows that she is walking in God's grace and love. I thank God for her faith, and for the reminder that this was for me: what we do is important, and our love and faith and courage change things, particularly when we have to cross that final threshold of death - the door into richer, fuller, more wonderful love and life with God.

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