By Rev. Dr. Linda Hollies
One year ago, this date, my youngest son, Grelon Renard Everett, went to be with God. I believe in Resurrection. This has been a year of great and unrelenting grief for me. I have been deliberately walking slow through this journey of loss and trying to make sense out of the non-sense of a mother, outliving her child. The Jewish people and their sitting Kaddish, have given us, who are now Jews by New Birth, the "liberty" to take a year to grieve. Believe me, I have needed each day of this past year. And, I’m not ready to move swiftly yet. I know that I’ve got to move through this season. However, I’m not ready to be pushed to get up and move on today! Jesus Christ got up and this says that I will too….eventually!
On this day, across America, we will gather, with our bright spring clothes and new hats to celebrate the getting up and moving on of Jesus Christ. I too join in this birthdate of The Christian Church. I have my bright pink outfit that my oldest son, Gregory Raymond Everett, has bought me and I found an awesome hat. But, my heart is yet heavy. My tears have not ceased. There are yet questions in my mind. And, it takes me more time than usual to get my brain wrapped around additional loss. I don’t just cry over my loss, but I can join in with anyone else and cry both for them and with them. I’m not the one to encourage folks to hurry through their tears. For, I’ve discovered that God can read my tears. Every time I cry, God interprets my heart. Tears are often my most articulate form of prayer! Like Mary Magdalene, I often just want to kneel and hold on to the hem of the garment of Jesus!
For getting up and turning loose means that I’ve got to go out and get busy, get involved and reach out and touch others. Rising from my kneeling position, releasing my dead son to the eternity to which he now belongs, means that I must move forward into the unknown, again. I’d never encountered the death of a child before. It had not crossed even my "little mind" when my children were born that they would NOT bury me. This is the pattern that we experience: people grow old, get sick and sort of fade away. So, I expected that my death would be something that they would have to deal with in due time. So, when the death angel came to collect my child, I didn’t know what to think, how to act or re-act. A new role was forced upon me. And, for this past year, I have tried to find a comfortable fit for this garment of grief. It’s been by trial and error and I declare unto you that there is no comfortable fit!
Thankfully, no one has said to me that "You have other children." For each one of us is so distinctly different and unique in purpose. Grelon Renard was one of a kind. He always heard the beat of his own drummer and marched to a different beat. Tall, big, brilliant and filled with musical abilities, I’ll never forget the day he came home from seventh grade, having joined the band and deciding to play the little, thin flute. I praise God for my Mom, with whom Grelon now resides on the other side, for she would kindly listen to him "play" for her over the phone, way past the time when I was sick of those shrill notes! But, he grew to play with such skill and passion. He minored in music as an undergrad, so that he could continue to learn for he said that he heard the angels. Many were the times that he played simply for them! Us earthbound ones only got to listen in and to be thankful for his gift.
Even when his days were numbered; his one eye blinded by the diabetes; a hole in one foot, requiring a mobile wheel chair; his personality changing from the effects of the every other day dialysis, Grelon continued to go to choir rehearsals, to accompany them and to play for any visitor to his home. Grelon played from "his" chair, seated at the base of the choir stand, at the church that Sunday before he died. Feeling bad, constant doctors appointment and eye exams and operations, Grelon just kept getting up. He just kept going on. He was determined to live daily for Jesus Christ and to be like Jesus. "We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has mastery over him!" (Romans 6: 9)
One year ago, today, Grelon was found on his couch asleep in God. I know that the angelic orchestra was playing as he got up and walked, no, ran, fully seeing into the eternal realm. For my son had an abiding faith in the goodness and the authenticity of a relationship with God that was unshakable. He told me on several occasions, trying to comfort me, "Mama, God said that I will not go blind. And, God said that they will not amputate my foot." And, both statements were Gospel Truth! Grelon worked for God until the very end of his life, as short as it was to me. When will we, whole Christians, rise up and get busy for God?
Author, William Boetchker, says that there are seven national crimes (attitudes) that we who claim belief in Resurrection need to re-think and to stop saying: 1) I don’t think. 2) I don’t know. 3) I don’t care. 4) I’m too busy. 5) I leave well enough alone. 6) I don’t have time to read and to find out. 7) I am not interested.
A sista friend, Angie Moore, writes a weekly encouraging email, entitled, Just A Though for us, her email buddies, to ponder. She asked about Boetcker’s charges, "How many of these attitudes might we find ourselves guilty of in a given day? I know that these are only phrases that we use to justify or excuse ourselves, but they could be the catalyst for harm, or they could make the difference for good. We cannot do, know or prevent everything, but we can do what we can, when we can, even if it puts us out a bit. Have a God week!" Notice that Angie does not say, "Have a good week". She reminds us to rise up daily, being mindful of, thankful to and busy, representing God! Even in my grief, I’m compelled to have a God week!
On this Easter Day that we celebrate Jesus rising with victory over sin, death, hell and the grave, I’m challenged to seriously consider what I will do when I rise again! For what if Jesus had used any of the seven national "crimes" that we too often use, when faced with the decision to die in our stead?
I’m so glad that Jesus thought enough about us to come to earth and share our walk so that we might share his divinity. I’m so glad that he knew all about us and loved us just the same. I’m so glad that he cared enough NOT to call ten thousands of angels to save him from a cruel and unjust death! I’m so very glad that he was not too busy to take up the Cross on our behalf. God knows that I’m so glad that Jesus was determined NOT to leave well enough alone, but became our intercessor! I’m so glad that he took time to read Torah and to pray it on our behalf as he died. And, I’m so glad that he took a personal interest in each one of us and this included accepting my child, Grelon Renard, into a personal covenant relationship and to come and carry him "eternally home". This is my faith. This is my belief. This is my hope. And, this is my Resurrection story!
This year, as never before, I pray that all of us who are down in any way, shape or form, remember that we are Easter people! It is our faith in Resurrection that will truly allow us to experience that lifting up, propelling forward Holy Spirit. For life will get us down. But, there is that Special Significant Something (called The Holy Spirit) about being an Easter people that will lift us; strengthen our backs, put pep in our feet and cause our eyes to look up toward the hills where our help comes from every time. We will rise! Surely, this is Good News! May this be your best Easter Sunday ever! We can walk on, continuing the journey, by faith in the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ!
Shalom Rising One, shalom! Sista Linda
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