February 20, 2016; Offered by the Rev. Adam Thomas
There are times when no words are adequate enough to express the depths of loss we feel. There are times when silent weeping and tight embracing are the only vocabulary left to us. The last nine days has been one of those times. So with no adequate words available, I am left to share with you only these inadequate ones, knowing full well that I could never capture a soul as bright as Megan’s nor a love as deep as God’s in mere words.
I met Megan about two years ago when I moved to Mystic. But our contact was limited to pleasantries after church services and a few in-depth conversations about private matters. And yet, even with this limited contact, I got to know Megan pretty well. She was just one of those people who was fully present when you talked to her, and therefore made the most out of every conversation. She also listened so intently to my sermons. There are a few people I direct my sermons too while I’m preaching because I know they’re right there with me. Megan was one of them, and I feel blessed to have had her full trust and attention.
Megan had an unselfconscious elegance about her. She could be wearing jeans and a sweater and yet seem dressed up. I think this had to do less with her outward appearance and more to do with what was going on in her heart. She lived a life of devotion and dedication, and her earnest desire to help those around her be better shone through. She was devoted to her children, her work, her faith, and she walked through this life shining because she cared. She shared herself. She loved.
But when I say, “she loved,” I must amend the tense I used and make it present. She loves. Her love did not end when she died. Her love did not end because her love is part of the great and eternal love of God, in whose full and all-encompassing presence Megan now rests. We usually here St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians at weddings, but today’s service is much more appropriate. A few minutes ago, Mark read: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Love never ends. Love has no past tense. Indeed, we know the power of the resurrection is real because Megan’s love did not end nine days ago. Megan’s love still permeates our lives – not only in our memories, but also in our waking and in our sleeping, in our laughter and in our tears, in our joy and in our grief.
In fact, there is one reason and one reason only why we grieve. We grieve because we love. The only way never to grieve is never to love. And a life without love is no life at all. Grief is the process of love transforming, changing location, moving slowly and painfully down from the surface into the bedrock of our lives. That’s where Megan’s love will reside in time: at the very core of our beings, as a special piece of God’s love that urges us to be a little better than we were yesterday, to shine a little brighter.
The deepening of Megan’s love into the bedrock of our lives, into our foundations, will take a long time. For today and tomorrow and for many tomorrows after that, the jaggedness of such sudden and irretrievable loss will be our constant companion. But you might have noticed something since you heard the tragic and overwhelming news of Megan’s death. You might have noticed that in the moment you heard, an instinct kicked in – an instinct to grab ahold of the nearest person you love and just cling hard.
Such sudden and irretrievable loss as we have suffered has a way of clarifying our priorities. In the last week, I have witnessed such love and grace in meeting with Megan’s family and talking with her friends. In the face of such tragedy, our priorities are clear, instinctive, neither muddied nor marred by all the petty distractions the world usually throws our way. You embrace. You tell people you love them. You say “thank you” more often. You think of others ahead of yourself. You pray. The thing is: these five priorities I just listed sound a lot like how Megan lived all the time. This is her lasting gift to us — a roadmap to a life of greater devotion and caring, to go along with her special piece of God’s love nestled in the depths of our souls.
I wrote these words early Wednesday morning, and the whole time I was writing I had this picture open on my computer screen. Whenever I got stuck in the inadequacy of the words I was searching for, I looked at the picture. And I saw love, true love, eternal love captured in a timeless embrace. Maggie, Palmer, I can’t even begin to imagine how you feel right now, but I hope with every fiber of my being that if not today, then someday you will feel your mom continuing the hug she’s giving you in this picture. And know in a special corner of your hearts that this hug will last forever. Because love, true love, eternal love like your mom has for you and God has for each one of us, never ends.