Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Live Together

I’m processing a lot today. My seniors are graduating and moving on, my small groups are ending, and the future holds so many new doors… new family, new friends, new city, just about new everything.

I spent yesterday morning at work before heading home to change for a funeral. The woman whose life we were celebrating was a dear friend of my soon-to-be-in-laws. They had spent the last 20 or so Thanksgivings with her family. Sadly, we never had the chance to meet. I rode to the memorial service with my newly extended family and entered the church. The tears were prevalent. The photo slide show brought chuckles to those grieving. The music was comforting and the eulogy was beautiful. I’m not sure if I can describe to you all of the emotions I felt during this funeral for a woman I had never met. I found myself deeply moved. I hugged family and new friends as person after person told me they were so glad to meet me, but how sad they were at the circumstances surrounding our introduction.

D and I made our way to the home of the family and I stood speaking to my soon-to-be-father-in-law about mourning those we love. I told him that pleasant words are always spoken at funerals – but sometimes those words are a stretch. This funeral hadn’t required any stretching of the truth. It was apparent that her love for others had dominated every aspect of her life. The celebration at the house was open to everyone who had attended the service, and it was packed. I stood against a wall and just observed the way that this community had come together in their grief and out of genuine love and I teared up again. I wept for all of the good-byes that are yet to come, and I wept for the hurt of these lovely people. As D and I left, he made the comment that this was his least favorite experience of life. I concurred and said that I didn’t know anyone who enjoyed saying good-bye.

We drove straight to a LOST season finale party with 25-30 members of D’s church. We walked into a rowdy crowd of Suns fans who were cheering on their team as LOST was recording on the DVR. Everyone brought food and hugs to share. The kitchen was full of people helping themselves to the fridge, cutting the roasted pork, and marveling at the amazing cake creation. Again I stood against a wall and watched. I watched them laugh and connect. I witnessed community in action. We snagged appetizers and D and I found a spot in the packed living room to watch the two hour recap. Although I entered this group just in January, this collection of friends has been watching LOST since the very beginning. The faces have changed, but the standing appointment remains year after year… until now.

We gathered in the kitchen and held hands to pray over the feast that awaited us. Our host started off the prayer with the sentiment, “God, oddly enough… we thank you for a television show.” He wasn’t thanking our Father for entertainment or good writing. He was thanking God for community. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what LOST has conveyed since the opening sequence of chaos and wreckage. Live together… die alone. I clasped D’s hand tightly through the end of the prayer and found that I had tears in my eyes. I looked at my new faces of community and I said a quick prayer of thanks for all the ways God was providing for me.

We watched the finale together. The floor was uncomfortable, the desserts were incredible, and the commercials were chaotic (I would not take the role of DVR fast-forwarder even if you PAID me)… but the experience of viewing those last 2 ½ hours were meaningful. I cry at Hallmark commercials – so I was impressed with myself for making it as far as I did. (WARNING – ending spoilers) As Jack lay down among the bamboo my thoughts traveled to the memorial service. I thought of the families that surrounded each other in the darkest time. I looked at this character on the screen that we had all grown to love and my wish for him was that he not die alone. And just like that, Vincent the dog ran into the scene. I’m not really an animal person, but as I witnessed the golden lab lay down gently beside the sacrificial hero, I began to weep.

Just over a year ago I discovered something unexpected about myself. I determined that I had a huge fear of being alone. This wasn’t the surprising fact – I’ve always known that despite my adventurous spirit and independent nature – I long to be connected to others. What surprised me was the realization that at some point I had come to believe that needing company or community showed spiritual weakness. I had skewed things to the extent that I thought God was holding out on giving me the love I desired in my life because I couldn’t be satisfied just in him. Obviously he desires that I would find fulfillment and ultimate satisfaction in Him alone – but he also didn’t place us here to fight the fight as a one-man team. I had twisted his best for me to be a self-made punishment. Because you can't get this right, you will always be alone and you should learn to suck it up.

When God created the world he declared it to be good, and that Adam was very good. That could have been it. God and Adam until the end of time. But God looked at Adam and decided it was NOT good for man to be alone. God gave Adam the companionship of Eve.

What I witnessed at the memorial service and at the party was beautiful. I was trying to put words to it today – and that’s as close as I can get. I witnessed the Body of Christ in action; weeping with those who weep, and rejoicing with those who rejoice.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of others, for the love of friends, and for the chance to live together. Thank you for life and thank you for a t.v. show. Thank you for your love and your grace.

I once was lost, but now I'm found... twas blind but now I see.


shannonmichaelis said...

Wow, as someone who just watched Lost last night and tossed and turned all night after watching it, I thought this was a great way to put it into words. The dog was a nice touch, though I bawled thruout the entire show. Coming together with those we love - yes, that is how the Lord created us. I am thankful you have found your community, your body of believers - may you now feel complete....

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ginger. This is beautiful. I think community saves our lives...literally...and there's no better thing than being together.

dc said...

I love community, and I love what you said about it. I lived for years as a self-proclaimed Lone Ranger... So glad that I don't have to live like that anymore!