All the gray and somber words come back and back, and I move away from them as I did the bodyless wing-necked cherubs on the stained glass windows in a certain church for endless years. “Who wants to be that??” I’d insistently thought as a child. (And still do!)
About 9 months before she was finally brought Home, my mother said, “I seem to have dreamed about Jesus. He was… He was… ... so beautiful … He said, ‘Tell Relax to give up one of her jobs.’ That’s it. That’s all He said.” She seemed puzzled by that, and as if reciting it to herself more than relating it to me.
I watched her face, happily trapped in wonder of such a Memory, while I choked up. She didn’t know about the third part-time job I’d recently taken on! He did. I was running around more than ever with 2 little kids, 2 big ones, 3 jobs and then all her shopping, errands, doctors, too. I literally ran from my car to a work building and the next, ran back after my time was done there and there until evening, drove as fast as I legally could all the way to her apartment, and I would have to rein in my crying on the way back (to pick up one child here, another there and get them to art and Scouts and music) when I got to the bridge, else I’d compromise the driving safety of all of us.
Yes, it was His way of saying, “Get ready to take care of her.” For my mother to be at a loss for words was unheard of. “So beautiful.” That was all I’d get out of her about Him, though admittedly, I hadn’t pried. I had seen nothing light up her face until then but babies. I had seen only fear, tears and suffering, and occasionally, humor. This was her joy; I wasn’t about to horn in on it.
I quit the third job the next day. How little we realize… What kind of God says something like that to us BOTH, in a way, except one Who is here, too? Hands on. As Annie Dillard put it in “Teaching a Stone to Talk”:
Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”
And so, I take nearly a non-Catholic exception to the somber and the gray (which may explain why I hate winter) of, “For the repose of…” Of whose souls? It can only be ours, here, in the grieving now — because beyond here, there’s joy. (To tap into! Now!) Wordless joy just to see Him? One can only imagine how much greater… how much greater…