“God desires to reveal His heart to us and to build His heart
into us as we seek His face.”
Something I learned this past week that I didn’t know,
is that as soon as a President becomes President, the planning for his death and funeral
is set in motion.
Being President is such a huge role that it seems that it doesn’t matter when you leave the office—
not nearly as much as it does as when you leave this life.
Shortly after taking the helm, President 41 was approached by his aides that he would need
to sit down in order to write up his final wishes for his funeral service…
orchestrate it, if you will, down to every last detail.
Here he was just settling into the new job and when he’s told he needs to focus on his death.
An odd paradox to any new president to be sure.
Reluctantly President 41 agreed but forlornly mused that he doubted anyone would be
He wasn’t being self-deprecating for show…he honestly thought no one would really
want to show up for such a thing as his funeral.
I admit– I hate funerals.
I attend them only if it is absolutely necessary.
I think that goes back to when I was 7 and my grandfather died unexpectantly.
I was crushed because he was so great, so grand, so special…so mine…
So when he died, I had to grow up fast enough to be a “big” girl throughout his
death and funeral.
I next had to witness the very visible downward spiral of my grandmother shortly following…
It was a hard time for a 7-year old little girl who adored her grandparents.
I’ve never cared for funerals since.
I buried my cousin, who was my best friend when I was 21; my mother when I was 26;
my grandmother when I was 26; my other grandmother when I was 29; my brother when I was 35;
my dad when I was 58; my aunt when I 58…
that doesn’t count the numerous friends and colleagues I’ve helped bury nor that of my
husband’s family…it just never seems to end.
So I can understand the reluctance in having to sit down and plan such a thing when such
thoughts seem to need to rest on a back shelf someplace else…
at least for just a little while longer.
I suppose the sense of urgency for a president to plan his own funeral may have come
from the assassination of a youthful John F. Kennedy.
I’ve not researched this so I could be wrong…it may actually go back much further than that
but I just figure after JFK, the suddenness of death didn’t seem so far removed after all.
Yet over the course of this seemingly long week of somberness and grief, I have
actually been sweetly blessed.
I have learned some important lessons.
Lessons such as… allowing one’s life, rather than ones’ words, to be the true witness of
how to live and of how to treat others.
I’ve learned how to be a servant.
I’ve learned how to be gracious in all circumstances.
I’ve learned how humor cures.
I’ve learned the importance of always being gracious and humble.
I’ve learned that there is hope in death.
I’ve learned that age is just a number.
I’ve learned that physical limitations should not be seen as a limitation to living but
rather as an opportunity.
And I’ve learned that as we grow older, we do indeed grow wiser.
Or so should be our hope.
We lose the smugness and arrogance of a more youthful self and we realize that there
are things that are truly greater than ourselves.
I watched many an older gentleman, this past week, speak of a dear old friend in terms
of a knowingness.
These men, most of whom hail from “the Greatest Generation”…
men who were once important and powerful, speak now of their smallness compared to the greatness
of their Creator, their Savior, their God…
He who is much greater than themselves.
I heard them speak of God and His greatness as well as His graciousness.
I heard them speak of humility and lessons learned.
These are men who lived large lives and yet remained grounded.
I told a blogging friend this past week that every time one more member of this Greatest
Generation dies, I feel a little less safe and little less secure.
That was until I heard and saw the visible lessons offered by our 41st president and those
who knew him best…throughout a life well lived and through a slow dying
of which ended with love and grace.
The reflection of a parish priest who witnessed the 60 plus years of a loving friend stroke
the feet of his dying friend.
Of how the President seemed to have slipped into that place between life and death
as those who gathered around him waited.
Yet James Baker stood at the foot of the bed and rubbed the feet of his friend and who
in turn, with eyes closed and no words spoken, smiled.
The priest thought of Jesus who after all had been said and done that Passover evening,
proceeded to wash the feet of his dear friends.
This oh so divided Nation that is rife with its fair share of smugness, arrogance, defiance,
and yes, even hate…a Nation I have been so fretful over…
Well, it was throughout this week that I was reminded that we are capable of being better
when we are needed to be.
We can rise above when necessary…
And so my friends, it is that time…it is the time that we hold ourselves accountable.
We must be wise and not foolish.
As it is imperative that we remember that there is something, Someone, so much greater
He is our Creator and we are his created and it is time that we seek His grace.