We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

So, how are you at making decisions?
I've had to make a lot of decisions over the last few months. And I'm not finding it easy. I've agonized over replacing my old car, deciding what to keep, what to pass on, and what to save, and everything in between. How did Barry always seem to know what to do?
How often I've cried out to God to help me over these weeks. I'm learning that making a decision is a little like crossing a river, taking one step at a time.  
I size up the rushing river
 overflowing its banks, full of unknowns,
the other side far away and obscure.
Alone now,
with only distant dreamlike memories left,
I wring my hands and pace the shore.
What if my foot should slip?
What if misjudgment sweeps me downstream?
What if ignorance pulls me under?
I feel the hand of time upon my back,
driving me ever closer to the current’s edge.
My heart beats fast.
Tears escape their hiding place.
I cower at the brink.
 “Oh dear God, please help me.
I need your grace.”
First one foot. Then the other.
And as I take each faltering step,
the Red-Sea-waters part.
Just enough for me to take another step
and then one more.
On dry ground
All the way to the other side.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Epitaph

I wanted more than just his name and his dates.

There's something special when a gravestone gives an inkling about the person's life, a line to two to sum up the years. Perhaps the engraved words create a sort of bridge between the living and the dead. 

Once or twice a week I walk to the cemetery to visit my husband's plot, tissues wadded up in my pocket to catch the inevitable tears as I kneel down to tell him how much I miss him and love him. It's been four months today that he passed from this life into the next--a long four months. And now the permanence of being alone seems to haunt me more than at the beginning of this journey. At the same time, I've found hope in the presence of a living God who promised never to leave me.

Before I ordered Barry's monument, I walked up and down the paths between the stones, reading the names and dates and searching for inscriptions that said a little something about their untold stories. I didn't find many. Only a few had verses. One had a word puzzle. Many displayed hearts and crosses.

How do you summarize a life? What's left after you boil it all down to one or two lines to etch into a piece of granite? How does a family sort it all out and decide just the right words?

This is the epitaph our family decided to have engraved under Barry's name:
Lifelong Learner
Loved God and Others

Barry had a love of learning that still baffles me . . . languages, philosophy, history, math, health, gardening, investing, sports, religion, politics, the arts, and on and on.

He also loved God, "the Creator and Sustainer of the universe." And growing out of that relationship, he took time for others. Time to listen, encourage, help, offer sound counsel, give of his resources, and nurture their gifts and passions.

I think he had it right, don't you?

It's a bit sobering to see my name beside Barry's, already indelibly etched into the stone. I wonder what will be engraved beneath it someday. On my walk home, eyes still moist, I remind myself that ending well starts with the present. 

So . . . what epitaph would you like to have on your headstone someday?