My mother passed away on December 16. And with her passing has come a profound appreciation of my own mortality.
I’m confident that this is a fairly common experience among all those who grieve the loss of a close friend or relative. But as I contemplate the meaning of life in general, I have reflected on her life in particular. Various biblical passages have come to mind as my thoughts have pondered these things. One passage has emerged as a dominant hinge-point for my thinking.
The verse is not of the Psalm 23 variety, although these passages were helpful. In fact, this verse is not commonly linked with funeral messages or found on sympathy cards. It’s a verse near the end of John’s gospel and is a literary commentary. Found in John 20:30-31, it says,
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
As I contemplate the life of my mother, I recognize that I have an incomplete picture of her life experiences. I know of the ups and the downs, the happys and the sads. But I don’t have the complete picture. She touched many people in some ways I’ll never know. At the funeral home visitation I had many conversations with people who knew mom in contexts which I knew nothing about. One person expressed appreciation for mom giving hospice care to a family member and how this had been a blessing to them. Another was a neighbor who spoke of mom checking in with her frequently when she was recovering from surgery.
It seems that mom was busy doing some nice things for people that I would not have known about unless they had shared these things. It occurred to me that there are scores of other experiences that I will never know about.
So the scripture came back to me in paraphrase and specifically worded to offer meaning and comfort,
“many other acts of kindness and care were done by Clarice Cleveland of which I will never know, but these were shared that I might believe that a human life is only fully known by God and not by any single human being.”
The meaning of a life is never quite as vivid as at the time of mourning. I emerge from this experience of loss with a renewed appreciation of what mom’s life meant. There is truly more than I will ever comprehend. There is more to her story than I will ever know. But God knows and in that I find comfort.