We’ve seen each other at the Starbucks a lot, so you’ve seen me on unwashed-messy-hair Saturday mornings and on business-ultra-casual workdays and on Sunday mornings when I’m in my formal habit. So you asked me yesterday about my status in the church, and I told you I’m something like a nun, and then you asked me a really important question.
If a person kills themself, and it is totally and completely by accident, like, they didn’t mean to do it, are they still forgiven?
Yes, absolutely, I said. Even if it was intentional suicide, they are forgiven.
Oh thank you. That helps a lot.
And then I asked if this had happened to someone you know, and you said that a friend had been careless when working with a weapon. I told you I was sorry for your loss – and I am – and that I will keep you and your friend in my prayers. You thanked me for that, and I pulled away from the drive-through with my skinny mocha and my (definitely unskinny) lemon cake, and left you behind.
The thing is, I haven’t been able to leave you behind. I’ve been thinking about you for a day and a half now, and I wish I had stopped to offer you something a little more than a promise of prayer. I have prayed, and I continue to pray, but I feel like I should maybe have done something a little more for you. Of course, you were working the drive-thru. At Starbucks. Just outside the military base. At 7:30am. You probably didn’t have the time for me to come in and talk with you and see how you’re really doing.
I picked up a coffee again this morning, but didn’t see you. I’ll try again tomorrow. Because I’m concerned for you, and I want to make sure you’re okay. Because, as I told someone recently, I love and I pray – that’s what I do. That’s the job of a Sister or Brother: to love and to pray.
I want you to know that you are loved and you are being held in prayer. I want you to know that God grieves for your pain and grief. I want you to know that, regardless of what their life was like here, your friend is in a place of great joy and amazing wonder. I want you to know that they are surrounded by the Great Light that heals and makes whole and gives life. I want you to know that they are cherished completely, loved infinitely, and held to the bosom of Jesus like a precious jewel.
I want you to know as well that you are cherished completely, loved infinitely, and regarded as a precious jewel. And if you need someone to journey with you for a while, to listen and support and to love and to pray, I am willing to be that person for you. You may already have someone like this, but your question made me wonder. I heard the yearning in your voice, the deep desire to know that all is well, that all will be well. Because it will – that has been promised to us.
Now that we have passed the solstice, called Yule, the light of the sun creeps back into our days again, a little bit at a time. And the Light, the Word became flesh who brings life to all people, is with us. We will celebrate that becoming-flesh tomorrow night and Friday, with parties and big meals and gifts for each other. We will celebrate the Light, the Word, the Life. As much as you may miss your friend, they also are celebrating the Light with the great feast that never ends. And one day, dear one, you and I will both join in that amazing celebration. Because you are a precious jewel, reflecting the image and likeness of the God who is Love.
Love and prayers,