If God Swore

Until then, I’d never experienced our church from the pulpit view. I’d done a reading once, down a tier at the presenters’ lectern. I once made a nervous mission announcement from there, as well.

I don’t know how many seconds passed before I began to speak.

There may have been no delay, at all.

Maybe my mind was moving faster than time. Or, maybe time truly suspended giving me a moment to catch up.

Being caught in that living still frame isn’t something I’ve ever been able to escape. Nor the feeling of being yanked back to the conscious present based solely on the physiological need to breathe.

This is what I saw: our church – our house of worship – filled. Surpassing Christmas, surpassing Easter. Standing room only, was truly that.

People lined the outer walls, the back walls, stood in the lobby, 2-3 deep in respectful rows, sat shoulder to shoulder. Hands clasped, eyes turned, a hush-filled quiet uncomfortably questioning what was about to happen.

So unexpected. So. Many. People.

I don’t know what I thought I’d see from up there, but that wasn’t it.

Someday, I want to paint the way I felt: far-away shadow figures, vague- shaped contours; impressionistic forms. It’s not that they don’t deserve to be individualized. It’s rather that they were one cohesive group, for the first time, for the last time, forever.

I’ve run the scene so many times; replayed when I need to feel stronger. I remember I did that and remind myself if I got through then, I can get through now.

I have an issue listening for God or to Him. I’ve gone way too long in some situations and found myself happily or unhappily God-smacked.

Like upside the head, like, “Hey, dammit (if God swore), pay attention!”

Like a physical push, showing me out of a situation that has long since run it’s course.

It’s easy to glance back and see the dozens of times the message almost got through to me. Last week, one actually did.

GOD: Dwelling. Places.

ME: (stubbornly) How. Many. Heavens?

Suddenly, I saw it so clearly. I knew.

In that sea of souls, right there in our Father’s house of worship, there were many dwelling places.

Down here, we call them hearts. Each person there, took him all the way Home in theirs.

Quote for the Week:

The Funeral Service and Stuff I Found

From the New Testament, Jeff’s father chose selected verses from John 14.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.”

“Believe in God, believe also in me.”

“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.”

Dwelling places; the phrase slammed me. For some reason; a jolt. It’s one I’ve never understood. A point of confusion really: how many Heavens are there? I heard other familiar bible bits drift in from a long way off. In between each, echoed “dwelling places.”  

My recollection of the dedicated meditation time was that I did not. Instead, irrationally irked, I internally re-played Roger’s specific “dwelling places” passage request, and wished the meditative time would end.

As a mark to the end, the Ministries announced that we would be moving into remembrances and microphones would be available if anyone chose to share their special memories of Jeff. I know they both clergy spoke, in turn. I cannot tell you what either said.

I can tell you that when pulled my own paragraphs from Jeff’s ‘funeral file’ last night, I was shocked to see I possess some semi-detailed notes. This isn’t the first time I’ve culled papers from the chest. It’s a bit unnerving not to remember ever having seen them before just because of the volume.

There are five pages. Three pages and one extra line of pink college rule, which, at first glance, I believed were in my mother’s handwriting. I compared it to the one-page neon yellow printer stock on which she wrote her thoughts. I can’t definitively say one way or the other. The brilliant paper Mom used however, no doubt was taken from our Michigan Hot Sauce Club stash for monthly newsletters and mail adverts.

There’s a list of the same color that seems to have be compiled by Jeff’s sister. I’m unsure if it is a role-call, an invite list or rows of still-to-be-notified. On the other side, are notes in my handwriting. Names, phone numbers, time of day or night, some doodle work, plus the note ‘figure out the store.’ That last one wasn’t in my pen.

Quote for the Week:

Pink College Rule Pages (1-4), Group Eulogy Contributions

Peace I Give to You

Funeral lessons were drawn from both Testaments.

From the Old Testament, Psalm 121:1-2

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord…”

 

A Song of Ascent, which continues to be quite the personal message, considering Jeff’s emphatic announcement that my baptism one year before his death was more important to him than our wedding day.

When he said, “Now, I know you’ll be alright,” he meant my place in our Father’s house would be secured.

Not premonitious; just a declaration of peacefulness. Jeff reveled in the calm that my soul was safely held and would be accounted for in heaven. The greatest of gifts.

It’s taken me a few years to appreciate this is the eternal promise that kept me going strong through the first few years.

It’s taken me a few more years to admit I have loosened my grip, lost my hold: effectively muted the joy. Despite that, here I am.  With barely any effort on my part, still going forward.

The thing is, I’m ready to revise, now. Just about everything. I want to begin again. Embrace what needs renewal.

2008, down 118 pounds. 2020, I’ve gained 12 back, slowly.

It’s easy to break it into bites that please my palate. That’s only a pound a year!

Except I am now further out away from what should have continued. You see, I wasn’t done. 30 more to go is now 42.

It’s also easy to declare this is what I want. The hard part is action; required.

Then, there’s trying to do too much. Or too much to do, so, not trying.

I know what I must do. I always know what I must do.

There’s really only one way through. But, to take that path….

First things first: reclaim the calm.

Quote for the Week: 2020 09 01 peace i give you jakorte

this is my truth

This is my truth. It’s complicated. It’s sequential. It’s simultaneous.

There is no straight path from here.

There is no ‘succinctly’ about it.

Understand there’s going to be temptation to argue it with me. Please don’t.

We could discuss it, but you’re only going to frustrate yourself.

I’ve lived this story-line. I know it how went for me, how it must go forward for you, and how hard it’s going to be for all of us.

I’m not saying you’re going to be wrong from where you’re looking on.

I’ve said it before. Bear with my repeat.

Scientifically, you cannot stand next to me and see the exact same thing.

Your angle affects your impression: size, shape, color, shadows.

Your history affects your perception.

Combined memories can be conflicting.

Every breathing minute moves me away from that one.

Details don’t dim. Everything around expands.

Moments get wider, more complex, more disturbing, circularly clearer, oddly uplifting, occasionally somewhat strangely amusing.

Some, by the Grace of God, will remain blessedly unresolved.

At least, until we all get where we’re going.

Quote for the Week:2019 09 02 cross over seasons can be doubly beautiful jakorte

 

 

 

 

Stairing

It’s true.

I am often compelled to take an awkward photo – one that I’m not even sure why I’m taking. One I obsess a little over – to delete or not. So, it ends up safely staying on my phone, saved to my cloud, downloaded to my computer; lingering with no real use or draw.

Until one day, when I find myself without words. Unable to form sentences of condolences, I scroll through unreasonably hoarded memories searching for inspiration, a photo prompt, anything that will spark the conversations I have to begin.

I found it filed under spring’s May adventure. I went for another reason; saw what I wanted to see. It wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Truthfully, disappointed, I moved on to try and find a more engaging reason to make the trip worthwhile. Leisurely exploring gifted me three themes: architecture, modern art and whimsy.

I took the same route down as I had going up; on foot, on stairs – noting to myself perhaps there’d be a picture in it, later. Hours later, travelled down, I turned to evaluate that thought.

I found that ‘later’ came with more impressive light and a focal exclamation point. I likely took a dozen and a few views. Hard to tell, because I whittled them down to the three I was having trouble letting go. This time, I looked a little closer. Somehow, a connection sparked between the three photos and the three recent events that needed those words I was looking for.

I still don’t have the words. I do, however, have the hope of heaven and a picture that  paints a thousand words.

2018 07 17 holding onto photos jakorte

with love for BD 06-23-18, JS 06-28-18 & JK  07-11-18 their families and their friends.