Friday, July 01, 2016

Abide with Me

We sang this hymn quite often in the church where I grew up. We also sang it in a small women's ensemble during my college years. I've always thought it was beautiful, and it has been coming to mind the past few days since my mother's death on Monday, June 27.

We did not sing it at her funeral, but the reason it keeps coming to my mind is because of its references to the sky and the sense of connection between the human creature contemplating death to the creation that is fallen in change and decay, but also responsive in a sympathetic way to the event of life moving through death to life again.

The photos below were taken on the day of her death and then this morning (Friday).

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day,
Earth's joys grow dim, its sorrows pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless--
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

About 5:45 Monday morning. I had not slept much all night and was very hungry. I left my younger brother in the hospital room and went to get something to eat and try to sleep a little before coming back. On the way I saw the sun starting to rise and stopped to take a picture. My mom died at 6:15, shortly after sunrise.

This is from inside the hospital, while I was making phone calls after her death.

We had lunch later at my sister's house, and as my dad, older brother, and I were driving back to my dad's house, we exited the tree-ey neighborhood to this unexpectedly beautiful sight. That is the hospital at the end of the rainbow.

I was driving the car, and my brother was taking pictures. We kept trying to slow down, or stop, or back up, to get good shots of it. And then it turned out he was able to capture the whole rainbow from my dad's own driveway.

Sunset on the evening of her death, from Daddy's back porch.

This morning.

"Heaven's morning breaks...." I could hardly believe I got to see this in the ten minutes or so I was out there today. The rest of the day has just been blue, blue sky with almost no clouds, but this morning it was a cloudscape perfect for the morning sun breaking through to shine on her grave.

Mama always loved nature. When she was older she had to stay in more because of skin cancer concerns and general health issues, but in earlier years she went to Camp Wyldewood thirteen years as both camper and counselor. She spent a summer at Yellowstone Park. She planted all kinds of flowers, digging them up from the side of the road or transplanting shoots given her by friends or her mother. She used to take us fishing (though my sister and I used it as reading time.) She loved to go for rides in the country. We had dogs and cats and chickens and rabbits and goats and I don't know what all when we were growing up.

So it just seems fitting that nature would give us these beautiful moments in the days around her death. Through cloud and sunshine, she is abiding with the the One who changeth not in the mystery of this time, and in the weightlessness of finally resting in peace.


Lucy said...

Our sincerest condolences, and much love.

Cindy McMillion said...

Beautiful meditation

LidijaV said...

Dear Sheila! After long time I looked at your posts again. We want to express our sincerest condolence.
Greetings to Dra┼żen!