my cloud of witnesses

I used to be scared of the spring. For four consecutive springs, we lost a member of our family. The first was unexpected, the second was necessary, the third was not what anyone wanted and the fourth seemed a little unreal. Since then, there’s been more, not in the spring, but they hurt nonetheless. There’s been at least one death close to me every year since 2001. That moment in may when uncle buzz died was the moment I realized life wasn’t easy.
It took me a long time to even begin to understand why I’ve dealt with so many of these. I have friends that just recently have experienced the first death close to them. And while I have no answer, God has granted me a peace that transcends understanding. And tonight, he made things somewhat clearer for me.

In the church I’m working in this summer there’s a large mural on the wall that Daniel drew using pastels. Some weeks he explains the meanings of the different images that are portrayed. There’s a picture of a young person with an old grandma above her. In Navajo, the elderly are given much respect. They carry so much wisdom and they also see the potential in all the young.
Then there’s the symbol of those that have died in service to the country. At the front of the mural is a gun standing straight up with the hat on it. This signifies those that have died for our country and have gone ahead. And Daniel talked about not only those that have served but any of our family members that have also gone ahead and become our cloud of witnesses.
They are up there, looking down, and they see our potential. My many family members and friends, they are my own cloud of witnesses. They see my potential. They see who I can be if only I let God work in my life. Though I can’t see them, they are like a constant encouragement, cheering me on as I run the race, as I work in Arizona this summer, as I finish college and as I head to Africa in the spring. And maybe they see the potential in me beyond that as well. Maybe they’re up there dreaming up things with God for my life.
And just maybe, your own family members and friends are doing the same for you. When we let God dream for us, it’s always better and more adventurous than anything we could come up with on our own. And there are people cheering us on in the faith, even when we can’t see them or hear them or feel them.

There are people here too. I have the best support system anyone could ever ask for. Mom and Dad, thanks again for giving me up to God and allowing me to follow where He’s taken me. Matt, thanks for being the best brother and friend. Kelley, even though we’re separated most times, thank you for the lifelong friendship. Christi, I don’t even know where to begin, but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without you. Sarah Black, thank you for knowing me better than I know myself most times. Sara Lynn, thank you for challenging my thinking and talking intellectually with me even when I don’t understand half of what you’re saying. Beth, you taught me so much, thank you for being the first one willing to fight and disagree with me, but still love me at the end of the day. Emma, thank you for your smile and the sunshine you bring to my life. Sisterhood, thank you for providing me with something so unique and special. Mark and Scott, thank you for being like brothers to me. And to those that have gone before, thank you for your wonderful examples of lives well lived.

Every day I realize how blessed I truly am.


Christi said...

I love you Marge!!

Uncle Denny Aunt Sharon said...

Peeper: We love you and you are so wordy, talking and writing many words like a few other women in our family. You make up for your dad and Matt. We were in Rochester yesterday, for Uncle Don's memorial service. We laughed and cried, and ate as usual. Keep the faith instilled in you by your grandparents and mother as Paul told Timothy..and we know you will. You are the best looking redhead in the whole family.
Uncle Denny and Aunt Sharon