A memorial service was held for an individual who had a lot of impact on a group of people. The person who passed away had been cremated, and the memorial service was the outlet for mourners to talk about the deceased and work through their feelings and trade stories about the deceased who had impacted their lives.
The service was a very nice tribute, and afterward many people remained to talk and reminisce further. The funeral home staff noticed that the mourners seemed understandably sullen and needed more time to contemplate the loss. A scheduling conflict arose, but the staff decided it was not necessary to rush anyone away. They quietly informed the family that they were free to use the chapel area as long as they needed; but the staff would be leaving the building for another meeting. They requested the mourners use the side entrance to exit, and locked the front door.
The owners of the funeral home had considered relocating for some time due to concerns with maintenance of the older and outdated facility. The decision of whether to build a new facility had been considered, but the construction costs were too prohibitive to make it an option at that time. A real estate agent had located a few possible options, and had found a capable contractor to discuss retrofitting a few newer facilities to meet their needs. The staff had heard about the possible new facility and everyone was excited to see the new locations and drawings.
The staff left a note on the main door for anyone who tried to leave instructing them of the side exit. Inside the chapel the mood seemed heavy and only a few people talked with lively exchanges of their most vivid memories of the deceased. Most were quietly talking in small groups of familiar faces and exchanging comforting stories and thoughts. The loss was sudden, and the attendees were concerned about the emotional state of the direct family of the deceased.
One young woman found herself nodding off as she listened to the people talk in quiet, subdued tones that lulled her into a state of rest. She rarely dozed off and only realized it when her head dropped down. She looked up and thought the woman next to her noticed. Embarrassed, she decided to walk around the facility for a moment to restore her energy and left through the side door. On returning she noticed the heavy feeling in the room made her instantly tired again.
As she looked around for her companions she observed that perhaps she wasn’t exactly rude, for others who had been reading the obituary or sitting by themselves were also nodding off. The children had already curled up on the floor and slept near their parents’ feet. It seemed that all conversations were in slow motion. One or two people mentioned a bad headache and it made the young woman realize she had one as well. Suspicion arose when she tried to get up and she felt dizzy. She dialed her cellphone with difficulty.
The sound of walkie-talkie chatter drifted by and disturbed the young woman’s dream. A sound breached the quiet of the room. The doors to the chapel opened wide and several firemen rushed in. The sudden brilliance of light from the afternoon sun was startling and filled the room immediately. The movement and energy of those entering the room disturbed the young woman who watched the firemen but after a short time lost interest. She felt so weak that she hoped the men and the bright light would stop so that she could rest. Her head nodded and dropped down again.
“Ma’am, can you stand?” She jumped at the sound and looked up. A fireman was standing over her explained that there was a carbon monoxide leak and the chapel was being evacuated. Forcing herself awake, the young woman squinted into the glare coming from the open doors, it was so bright she could only make out the silhouettes of people being carried out of the room and more entering. As she glanced down to stand up she realized her phone was on and still clutched in her hand.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on a bright light that might make one shrink back.
1515 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
In Matthew 4:15-16 we read a reference from Isaiah 9:1-2, which followed concepts and words like being hungry, trouble, darkness, and anguish in chapter 8. The ‘dimness of anguish’ drives the children of Israel into darkness. This is where Matthew starts his reference, right after promises of terror and consequences. It begins with a focus on a certain region, a certain people – the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali who lived in the region of Galilee. It talks of the region enduring two different instances of hardship. Isaiah promised that although they suffered, in the future God had a promise for ‘Galilee of the nations’, the entire area. This promise is not something trivial, it is the difference between death and light (life). Galilee of the nations included more than these two tribes, technically it was probably a melting pot of various people…but still they have an identity with God. These people had a specific promise and God focused on them for a reason. They did not know how long it would be before their specific promise would be fulfilled, and many probably thought it was already fulfilled through peace. But is it enough to be safe from invaders or have prosperity? I think the promise was not actually about war or peace at all…it was about light. A light that is contrasted for us by a word picture to convey meaning. Just as in this story; living or sitting or even walking in darkness means your eyes adjust. A brilliant ‘great light’ enters the picture and is seen and of course noticed! Jesus was like nothing and no one seen before or since. He hid the glory and looked normal, but the way He held Himself, looked at a person, or spoke was radically different. The people in Galilee were among the very first to see that difference. For myself, I think of my life and path and well, I’m no different. The world around me was what I adjusted my eyes to, but when Jesus entered it was hard to see things in the same way, it was a radical change to the way I looked at things. I’m not talking about experiential belief, which is based only on feelings. What Jesus did was love me with such pure, passionate love that it meant no cost was too much. Realization of that meant all of me was impacted, not just my senses. Have you seen this great light I am talking about and let it in?
Note: This week marked thirty years since my Daddy passed away. I am so grateful for those who came to his funeral and showered us with support; it still means so much to me. Never assume that those little things do not have value, they do!