Saturday, February 14, 2015
JUST BEING THERE by Linden Malki
Not long ago, a customer in the store commented that he used to come pick up parts here for an uncle who had had a repair shop some years back. And then he said, "I still remember that you came to Uncle Bernie's funeral." All that I had actually done was be there--but that had been noted and appreciated by Bernie's family. I have come to understand that often the most important thing you can do is to simply be there.
I've been to several funerals just in the last few weeks, and believe that one of the reasons for funerals is to connect people. When you come right down to it, most of what we do all day is what we do all day, but this is reality. I recall a time during my husband John's last few months he commented that "God gives us lots of choices...this is one we don't get."
Births, weddings, funerals--what I remember most is the people who shared the occasion. I still remember Sue Bell, one of the longtime Calvary Baptist saints, who came by our house the day we brought my first baby home from the hospital, with lunch and baby things she knew I'd need. I remember the missionary cousin in Beirut who was at my wedding with her small daughters--and that one of those daughters was at my daughter's wedding with her small daughter. I remember on John's last day ten years ago the room at the hospital being full of his nieces and nephews, who stayed with us all day. And last Sunday, my kids, kids-in-law and I were at a hospital in Upland with John's brother Elias and his family; and my daughter and I spent Tuesday evening with them after Elias went to his eternal home. I treasure a picture taken at my son's wedding of his father, his Uncle Elias, and Frank and Madge Pipitone, long-time Calvary folks; Frank was one of the first people Elias met in San Bernardino when he had a small church out here, and we all became life-long friends.
We know that God loves us, watches over us, does amazing things in our lives. I don't think He is there to "make us happy", give us stuff, protect us from all pain and suffering. I believe He is there to BE THERE; to teach us, to keep us on track (if we listen), see us through the hard stuff. We not only know that He is there, but also that we can experience His presence. The summer my Dad died and my life got picked up and shaken and pt down somewhere totally different, I remember hanging on to the realization that when St Paul says that "all things work together for good for those who love God.." (Romans 8:28) it never says that any of those "things" are good, or easy--just that in them we can experience Him, and it will be for our good. The final result should be that we are, in the words of an old Christmas carol, "fit for Heaven to live with Him there"--to Be There, with Him.