Friday, September 4, 2009

Walk in the Light

I have been told many times that it was a beautiful funeral service. I wouldn't know, although I did do everything that I could to make it so. As with most of that week, I remember some things with great clarity and others not at all.

My husband, my mother-in-law, and I wrote pieces to be read by others. I have attended several funerals in the past few years at which family members have themselves spoken, but we were all too numbed by shock and pain. We could hardly imagine even going to the funeral, let alone speaking from the pulpit or lectern. And after a summer of ministering to the incredibly sick and dying at Famous Giant Hospital, I was very much inclined to let others minister to me.

I wanted to say something though, and a couple of nights after Josh died it came to me in a rush, so I crawled out of the bed in which no one was sleeping anyway and headed for the computer. One of my friends of the past two decades read it with great composure at the service a few days later.


Josh spent his 11th grade year in France, and we all visited him over the winter break. His wonderfully loving and gracious French family welcomed us to a magnificent Christmas dinner, and we spent time getting to know his home city and exploring Paris and the coast of Normandy.

One of the places to which we traveled was Mont St. Michel, the tall and expansive medieval monastery that rises so astonishingly from the rock of a small island in the English Channel just off the northern coast of France. Josh had already been there with his school, and delighted in showing us the massive pillars and archways in one of the lower level, and the views out across the sea from the top. But his favorite place was the monks' refectory, or dining room, located high up in the monastery. "Wait 'till you see, Mom -- you can walk in the light!"

And indeed, you can. The refectory is lined with windows on either side, windows cut into the stone at a slight angle so that, as you walk the length of the room, the light seems to walk with you. The day we were there, the refectory was cordoned off with a rope, but no one was around, certainly no one official. "You have to see this," announced Josh, and so we ducked under the rope and walked up and down the thousand-year-old stone floor,with the light accompanying us, step by step, window by window. We walked in the light at the top of Mount St. Michel, as the monks must have done for hundreds of years before us.

Josh's love for the nuances of light and dark, for the possibilities inherent in design and material -- the parts of him that made him a wonderful photographer and potential architect -- were so in evidence that day. The sense of adventure that took him to camp in North Carolina as a small boy, and to Europe to study as a teenager, and to travel with his brother as a college student, was in full swing, as was his deep love for the people he cared about: his French family, as well as us.

Oh, Josh. If only the light had stayed with you for all of the short time you were with us. Walk in the light now, my darling Josh. Walk in the light now.

Refectory image here.

Mont St. Michel image here.


Jennifer said...

The Spirit comes even in our darkest times...these words were your gift from Her, and somehow we must trust She was with Josh, too. Humbly touched once again.

Karen and Joe said...

Beautiful words, redeeming words, from a heartbroken mama to a brokenhearted son. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out. Jn 1:1. Our one true comfort is the glory of Heaven.

Sarah S-D said...

so beautiful. thank you.

and hallelujah is an incredible song... so richly layered, so beautiful.

Daisy said...

Amen, GG.

Carol said...

Beautiful words and a message for each of us in our own hours of pain and despair.

karengberger said...

Amen, yes.
Thank you for this story, which tells me more about his nature. He must be in the light now, your beautiful son.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine being in that light... God's light... pure... simple... without pain and suffering. Without question he is walking The Light... love at its most infinite.

Stratoz said...

I am glad you had someone to speak your desire.

and what is it about dining halls in such places. I found the light in the faces of those eating with me last Saturday.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This was so moving.

Gal said...

I think the Mont St. Michel might just be the most beautiful place on earth. I remember feeling that so deeply when I was there during my own semester abroad in high school. Magical. Thank you for sharing that beautiful memory of being there with Josh. I felt like I was there with you.