(I'm tempted to talk about God and earlier blog entries, weaving these life giving connections into the theme of relationships, but I'll let you do that.) Reflecting on and living in the changed reality of my Dad's death I am touched by wisdom. Wisdom born in relationship. Wisdom of those who have lost a father. Wisdom from friends seasoned by pain. Wisdom from friends ready to trust my emotional need of the moment. Wisdom from family who are making a journey through the same territory. All elders, of sorts, if not by age, then by virtue of their wisdom.
Dad's wisdom is glistening through the memories, conversations, prayers and support. His is truly as a generational and spiritual elder. It is a wisdom that has shaped me, as well as guided me. And, as wisdom does, it surprises me with It's appearance and relevance.
There was another elder, this week. One beyond the list above, and one I've just met. Samuel White, grandson of a slave, pre-civil-rights-born, friend of our Rural Missions home owner. Samuel told us stories about his history and connections, about his wisdom incubated in both pain and joy, freedom and limitation. (Shown here with homeowner Maria Haywood.) His was wisdom rooted in a very different place and situation. It was less familiar and enriching.
What my father and other elders have taught me with lives and language is that relationships are life. In relationship we love, grieve, grow, suffer, learn, lean, believe, trust and so much more. The tasks of life are valuable and yet, always secondary to relationships.
What my mission week has reminded me is that there is a Love that will not let me go. I know it as my mission friends live out the love of Jesus, being real Church, in a difficult week. I know it as I hear Samuel proudly recount his history, pain and all. I know it as I remember the wisdom of my Dad, and so many other elders, a great cloud of witnesses, who have loved me. Thank you all.
Who are the elders, teachers and guides in your life? I'd love to learn from your wisdom.