I love this picture! A picture similar to this hung in our childhood church and I was always transfixed by its artistic beauty and its quiet message. To me, as a child, it was the blessed assurance that when we folded our hands in prayer, our Heavenly Father listened and cared about our earthly concerns.
14 years ago, on Maunday, Thursday, Al’s Mother died. To her, he was always “Allen”, her only son, and one she loved very much. We were there with her on her final earthly evening, Al, his sister Joanne and myself. Joanne sat on one side of the bed and we sat on the other, holding her hand and talking softly to her. We read verses from the bible that we thought would give her comfort. It was a long night, so we also just sat there in quiet conversation going back and forth across her bed, speaking of our faith and our belief of life after this life. We had heard that before people die their hearing is always intact, so we were just a small gathering of family, holding hands and talking as families do. We like to think it gave her comfort.
That night, after sitting with her for many hours, visiting, reading and listening to deep ragged breaths, her breathing slowed and quieted. The evidence of physical stress left her face, replaced by a soft, peaceful look. Beneath her eyelids, her eyes were moving about as if she was seeing something and a beautiful smile crossed her face. Then she was gone. There is no doubt among us who witnessed this moment that she had gone “home”. We are certain, by the look on her face, that she was greeted by a welcoming, comforting, light filled love that arrived just for her, dear sweet Verona, to bring her to her eternal home.
The following Sunday was Easter and we worshipped with our son and family at the church they attend. As we sang Easter songs of glory, I imagined them written just for her.
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who Thee by faith before the world confessed;
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
We looked at the white cloth draped cross which indicates that through Christ we have victory over death. Those songs had special meaning that Sunday because as we sang those joyful songs, we could imagine our Mother in heaven among all the saints who had gone on before her. When the Pastor stated, “He is risen” the congregation responded with “He is risen indeed”, which I added in a whisper, “She is risen indeed”. Our Father in heaven came to live among us and to die for us and because of Him, our souls are eternal.
I imagine her soul now resting in our Holy Fathers beautiful hands, along with all the other saints who have gone on before her. Happy Easter Verona….happy Easter to ALL our Mothers and Fathers, gone but never forgotten.
Happy Easter dear friends! He IS risen!