This post is going to be all over the place. Just a heads up for those who like their blog posts to have one overarching topic.
One story of Jesus that has always touched me can be found here. Jesus’ cousin, John is beheaded. John’s disciples bury his body and tell Jesus what happened. This is in Jesus’ third year of his ministry. He leaves the city to be alone to mourn the loss of his beloved cousin. The crowd follows him, begging to be healed. He has compassion and heals and teaches them. Following this selfless act of love, he performs an amazing miracle of feeding the 5,000 (men plus the women and children). After this, he sends everyone away and goes to pray to Heavenly Father and finish mourning.
I love this story because even Jesus, the only one on earth to ever understand perfectly our purpose in life, to know perfectly about what awaits us in the next life, the one who has the ultimate perspective on life still mourned the end of his cousin’s mortal life. Through this story, we learn that even if we know how life will end, it is ok, no, it is vital that we mourn the passing of our loved ones.
On Monday, around eleven in the morning, my beloved grandfather passed away. He served in the army from 1946 to 1951. He graduated from the Chicago Art Institute. He is the father of five children. He taught high school art classes in California. In the summers he worked as a park ranger for Yellow Stone. I could go on, copying facts from his obituary, but that would just be the facts. They mean as much to the reader as me telling you the sky is blue.
The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I traveled to my grandpa’s house in the mountains in Utah. I had just decided that I wanted to study art in college. I spent the majority of my summer at my grandpa’s house learning oil painting, still life drawing, canvas treatments, and so on. We were in the cool basement studio. The fumes of oil paint and linseed oil permeated the air. I heard endless stories about his time at the Art Institute, of when he taught high school, of my mother’s childhood, and endless puns. He told me things that he thought I would need to survive college and being a Mormon artist. That summer I got to know my grandpa in a way I would have never otherwise had.
A few years ago we had a family reunion with my mom’s crazy clan. I had just had a baby, but we made the trip from Fort Collins to Utah. His mountain ranch home was over flowing with people, family members that I had never heard of, let alone met. The main focus was the family history records strewn around the tidy house. The living room, the dining room, the basement, the yard, they were all filled with family reminiscing, telling their favorite stories of their childhood, their life, the legends of our ancestors. Superman found himself nestled on the couch next to my grandpa. He sat there and listened as my grandpa flipped through books of photos and history telling him each person and story associated with each item. I was sure Superman would come away from that experience bored and glad to be done, but he surprised me by telling me how fascinating and great it was to listen to my grandpa.
My grandpa was a great man who loved his family and loved puns. The last few days, he was praying to move on to the other side. He went so peacefully, no one knows the exact moment of his passing. While our family misses and loves my grandpa deeply, we know that he is at peace. We know he is in the next life with our ancestors, his mother, father, and granddaughter, along with others. I know that I will see him again and that family is forever.
One thing I love about my church is the assurance that families can be together forever. My family is sealed on earth, through the same authority that Jesus gave Peter, to seal on earth and heaven. Death cannot end my family, just separate us temporarily. I love this truth. It helps with the mourning process. It helps keep all aspects of life (even politics) in perspective.
From Jesus, I also see that helping others aid in the healing process. He never had a moment to Himself. He was constantly helping and serving others. When we put others needs first, without grumbling, but with true charity, our needs are met.
How has acts of service helped you?