After the hustle and bustle of busy ministry projects last week I have found time to begin to get back into the routine of life and ministry. As is normally the case, there are encounters that are both powerful and engaging that help me to find my place in the immensity of God’s great creation.
This week I received a phone call with news that a former member of a youth group that I led had been tragically killed in a car accident. On top of this, the extended family over the past dozen years has adopted me as their own. After having such an engaging week last week with Targa Newfoundland and outreach, I was instantly thrown into encounters of old friends, great grief, sorrow, and pain.
In the midst of this I felt like I was reliving parts of my past, and encountering grief, love, sorrow, and joy in new ways. I remembered with thanksgiving Mary Great Heart, the matriarch of this family who died a few years ago. She seemed to breathe spirituality, forgiveness and love to her 14 children and their families, as well as to the whole of the shore between Upper Gullies and Topsail. Indeed, I miss her greatly; at this time, I realize the immensity of God’s love and presence in this world.
Amid the visits to home and funeral home, I encountered smiling faces and warm hugs. I recognized the presence and place of God in the midst of sorrow and tragedy. I saw great growth in people’s walk with God: a family member once apprehensive of discerning ministry now preaches with passion and conviction that only speaks of the Holy Spirit in his life. Two couples, a son and granddaughter, reminded me that their tenth wedding anniversaries are soon approaching, and that I presided at their weddings.
In the worship I sat with extended family, and offered prayer for all who grieve the loss of dear Samantha. I felt once again the presence of God, and I could feel the presence of Mary Great Heart’s influence in the lives of the family from the eldest son to the newest Great Grandchild.
In my thoughts I went to the writings of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles once again, reminded of the abiding presence of magic throughout the writings. From the wood between the worlds, through the Wardrobe to the Stable Door, Lewis uses the analogy that living things – trees – can help hasten children to encounter the numinous through their encounters with Aslan in Narnia. This has always excited and amazed me, as there are touch-points in my own life that help me reach God. A part of this for me is the home on Jones Lane, the beach and fields near our home, and the smell of tundra from my childhood in Nunavut.
What are your touch-points to reach God? How do you settle your heart amid joy and grief? How does God encounter you and open you up over the years?