He was not alone

It bothered me for months that the body of my brother had not been found until ten days after he died.

Rate this:

This morning I was remembering a story I first heard about three years ago.  It was told by Fr. Basil Nortz during a series of talks about the angels that we have on CD.  The story was told to him by another priest and goes something like this:  The priest’s mother died suddenly and unexpectedly one day, collapsing on the street after coming out of a store in which she had been shopping.   The priest, upon hearing about her death, was able to accept it in peace, except for one fact: that she had died so publicly on the street, a public spectacle–his mother was a very private person and would never have wanted to have died in such a public manner.  This was very disturbing to him. Why did God allow such a thing to happen?
     A few weeks after the funeral, he happened to be in the neighborhood of the store and stopped in.  The woman who worked there knew him and asked how he was doing.  He relayed his concern about the circumstances of his mother’s death.  She said, “Did no one tell you?” Apparently a young man who had been present came up almost immediately, put his coat around her, and held her in her arms until the EMT folks arrived.  The young man helped her into the vehicle and then took his coat.  The priest was so relieved that the young man had been with her, and, of course, wanted to know who he was so he could thank him.  The woman did not know, nor did others that had been present at his mother’s death.  Still he wanted to find him and thank him.
      Sometime later when the priest was praying, he heard a very distinct voice: “I am the one you are looking for.  I am the guardian angel of your mother.”    He realized that the Lord had allowed his mother’s guardian angel to appear in bodily form in order to protect his mother, even after she had died.  

The reason I share that story is very personal.  As some of you know, my brother, Tim, took his life in March of 2006.  I experienced God’s presence and comfort in untellable ways during those first few days after he died.  But like the priest in the story, in the midst of my grief something continued to disturb me.  My brother died on March 17, but his body was not found until ten days later, and that bothered me–that he was alone for those long ten days, and that haunted me for many months.  Until I heard Fr. Basil’s story.  As soon as he recounted the part where the priest heard the voice saying: “I am the one you are looking for. . .”, I began to weep because I knew the same was true for my brother–that his guardian angel had not left him alone during those ten days.   God’s mercy is so great.  “If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! . . . Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Ps 139.8,10).

That is the heart of Christ for us and for all those we love.  He will not leave us alone. 

 I don’t know why that story came to mind this morning.  Perhaps one of you really need to hear it . . .

Tim’s birthday

Yesterday would have been my brother Tim’s 57th birthday.  Three years ago he took his life on St. Patrick’s Day.  (This was the “very challenging time” of the “Courage” post.  See May 7, 2009.)  There were many, many ways that God upheld me through that time and many, many friends who did the same.  One of those friends was Amy Carmichael (see my last post).   Four months after Tim’s death, I read this and it was a great comfort:

For God sees the whole man, and He has a tender way of looking at a soul at its highest, not its lowest.  He does not do as we so often do, misjudge it because of what its diseased mind made its body do in a blind and broken hour.  And we have to do with a Love that can grasp the poor hands that reach out to Him in that darkness–what father would not do that?  And He is our Father.

But when those who have prayed for such a one have no assurance that there was ever any turning to Him who alone can save, then indeed we seem to be viewing a land like that hopeless country the prophet describes, whose streams shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone. ‘And He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness.’  But a word of peace comes through the confusion: prayer in the name of His Beloved Son does not fall upon stones of emptiness. Sometimes, somewhere we shall know better than we know now how gracious the Lord is.

from Gold by Moonlight