The news was sudden and tragic to a very close-knit family. Their young son, sibling, and example of someone who had everything to live for suffered a devastating accident and died. His obituary described a young man who was in his prime after just graduating with several degrees and a very promising future in the business world. The obituary listed many accomplishments this young star of academics had set for himself and left many examples that other aspiring students could copy. His parents and siblings were proud of this young man’s ability to leave such an astounding resume’ of doing everything right.
However, the one thing his obituary didn’t leave was the spiritual feeling of what just happened and how will his passing have any heavenly aftermath for his soul. Is he in heaven? How should we remember his remains or pray for his soul? Questions we would love to be answered, but where do we start?
Our young man began his life as a normal adolescent exploring life as he matured. He grew up as a youngster experiencing changes; puberty, childish attractions, teen-age years, school indoctrinations, and finally higher learning. Each step along the human ladder of growth made him more ready to accept the next rung on the ladder. With his passing what words can we invoke to his family? There usually are never the right words to say when we visit with the deceased person’s family. We are reminded only of the peacefulness that eternity with God will enhance each one.
Look at the signs of nature where the presence of a God-centered world envelops our senses. Say nothing and just watch. Sitting outside during the Fall we may see caterpillars crawling along to a site where they will lay eggs. During the summer months we are entertained by butterflies, some white or yellow, but many colored with multiple arrays of brilliance that can mystify most of us.
One may think of the beauty that nature, especially with butterflies, presents an aurora of peacefulness and the freedom to take in the presence of God’s gifts now and in eternity. That’s where the metamorphosis of our transition takes place; Resurrection and our souls enjoying the freedom from a hostile environment to what God has promised.
The young man, unlike the butterfly, will take on immortality. The Butterfly lives for only a few short days, but our young man whose human life was taken too soon will become a brilliant spectacle and fill the world with his beauty for all to admire; this child is a metamorphosis at the Resurrection where there is no more death.These words are meant for the family and hope they may one day understand them.
Listen to the words of St. Paul: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2: 9).
“The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want, He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul, he leads me in the path of righteousness for his names sake, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for he is with me, for thy rod and staff they comfort me, You set a table before me as my enemies watch, you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23).
Ralph B. Hathaway, September 2021