Several months after the death of my husband I went to Washington, D.C. and decided to make the most of a three-day visit with some rather ambitious sightseeing. The weather was unseasonably warm for late November so I was able to walk most everywhere to see the imposing monuments and visit several museums and historic buildings. As I strolled along, I paused to read many of the carefully worded inscriptions on the plaques and markers that dot the city’s streets.
At the World War II memorial my hand traced slowly over a bronze relief depicting muddy soldiers fighting in the South Pacific, where my own dearly beloved father served for four years. It was a powerful and very personal experience. I offered a silent prayer of thanks for his survival and thought of how God was in the foxhole with him as he recited Psalm 23 for strength and courage. Over the years he shared his fears and faith with me both in quiet conversations and by the example of how he lived. In that moment of spiritual communion with the past, I was awed by the power of God’s faithfulness and presence to all soldiers everywhere, for all time.
At the Vietnam Veterans memorial I found the name of a childhood friend who died in that war, remembering as though yesterday the heartbreak of his parents at the death of their only son. When I thought of the magnitude of their grief I grasped the divine reality of God’s comfort for all who’ve ever grieved throughout all the ages of time. I thought of the many countless brave men and women who have served and are now serving - the fallen and the living we remember and honor this Veterans Day.
Later I knelt in the National Cathedral to light a candle of thanksgiving for my beloved husband. As the muted sunlight of a waning autumn day streamed through the beautiful rose window, the certainty of God’s faithfulness to me – individually and personally - penetrated my grief. I felt strengthened by a new sense of God's abiding love and presence in my soul as I wiped away my tears and got up to rejoin the world. Then and there I resolved to emerge from the spiritual and emotional isolation of my grief.
This small moment was a decisive turning point in my grief because I knew without question that God is faithful. On that November day my eyes and heart were opened to the joy of these spiritual truths:
- God is ageless.
- God is timeless.
- God is unchanging.
- God is for all generations.
- God is from everlasting to everlasting.
- God is eternal.
- God is faithful.
God is with us as we grieve - as we remember, as we memorialize, as we live a life of rich, unbroken heritage in the love of those now lost to us in death. God is faithful to all generations. Beyond the brokenness of our grief, a grateful heart is our prayerful response to the steadfast love and faithfulness of God.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.
Psalm 102:12 NRSV
Keep me this day, O God, in the faithfulness of your presence. Amen.