This afternoon I returned from my Aunt Mitsu's funeral in south New Jersey. I've been gone since Friday. The funeral was held on Saturday, and the Sunday evening service at her church was dedicated to her, as well. I didn't know her well; mainly from the perspective of a distant nephew. So it was a blessing to hear the testimonies and tributes of fellow church members, fellow Christian school teachers, neighbors, and students she taught. I feel like I got to know her through those who knew her best. She held the respect and love of all who knew her. I left New Jersey confident of that.
Four brief descriptions can't do justice to a life, but then again, the accolades of earth have always been incapable of providing the reward of heaven. From what I heard this weekend, Mitsu was consistent, hard-working, respected, and no-nonsense. Each of those adjectives is brimming with testimonies and tears from those who will miss her the most.
The hardest thing about leaving my Uncle Sam's house this morning was that for the first time in decades, he is alone. Mitsu died Wednesday, but Sam was not alone until now. Being married, I understand the value of a wife. My Uncle Sam no longer has his. I still have mine. I will be careful to love her biblically, value her appropriately, and treat her well. To love is no small privilege.
Death has a way of blowing away the fog and confusion created by the details of life. When mired in projects and deadlines and to-do lists, today is complicated and tomorrow is intimidating. But one whiff of heaven and hell wakes you up and brings life to a screeching halt. Because at the end of the day, how many things are truly important? This is a haunting question, one that should be answered at the onset of every day and reviewed at that day's end. Otherwise we may regret in death what we have done in life.
I arrive home with too many lessons to meditate on and learn, much less pass along. I feel that I have lots to say and very little to say, all at the same time. One glimpse of eternity says it all, and leaves the soul speechless. Yet that same glimpse of eternity compels those who see it to pass along all they have learned while there is still time. May God be gracious to us all.
Perhaps one lesson: The day in which we live does not appreciate the sober-minded. We want to laugh and be entertained, and if we want spirituality, we want it to be cool, religiously acceptable, and able to be procrastinated. We say we want blood-earnestness and passion and holy violence and Christ-centeredness, but its rarity continues to increase. The simple exhortation for today: Be vigilantly God-centered. There are other options you can choose, of course, and they usually seem like they make just as much sense. Until somebody dies.