Saturday, February 04, 2012

Reflecting on my friend going home

I went off to get papers and bread this morning in the fresh cold air, with Leonard Cohen's new album on my iPhone. Yesterday I had been at the bedside of a friend who was bumping along the shoreline between life and death. Today as  walked in the morning sun, Leonard growled these words in my ear:

Going home without my sorrow
Going home sometime tomorrow
To where it’s better than before

Going home without my burden
Going home behind the curtain
Going home without the costume that I wore

I thought of my friend and Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5: 'Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day' and 'For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.'

I got home to be told my friend had died, she had 'gone home', she had gone 'behind the curtain' and would no longer be wearing 'the costume that I wore.' That costume was tired and worn out and ravaged with cancer. Her new costume will be gorgeous as she moves into heaven's fitting room to be prepared for the body with which she will rise.

A loved one's death breaks over us unprepared, however long we've known it's coming. And we're left with feelings of sorrow for those left to grieve and relief that a long road of suffering is now over and she will be in a place 'where it's better than it was before.'

Cohen has lost nothing of his ability to articulate the things we find too difficult for words. And for that I'm hugely grateful. 

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