One of the items I inherited after my mother's passing was an "angel bear" that her best friend had given her while she was in the nursing home. The idea of the angel bear is to serve as a watchman for the person to whom it is given.The bear figuratively speaking "watches over them" bringing a sense of peace and comfort. Once I brought the bear to my home, I had my husband put it on the wall over the bed in the guest room. I soon discovered that rather than feeling a sense of peace and comfort I was experiencing the pain of seeing the bear and being reminded of my mother. I was sitting with the Lord the other day and flipping through the front of my Bible having finished praying about the difficult struggle of grief. I keep various prayers and other meditative papers in the front cover of my Bible. I happened to pull out a contemplative prayer given to me by my spiritual director entitled, "The Consoler." The text of Scripture was Luke 2:22-38. This is the story of Joseph and Mary presenting Jesus at the Temple to be circumcised. While there, they are approached by a man named Simeon who had been promised by the Lord that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. The text states Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. After seeing Jesus, he gave glory to God that he could now die in peace, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, You may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyeshave seenYour salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." (Luke 2:29-32) Simeon also blessed Mary and Joseph but warned Mary specifically that a sword would "pierce her soul." There was also at the Temple a prophet named Anna who after her husband died, spent her remaining years at the Temple fasting and praying. She too, gave God the glory for Jesus and all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.(Luke 2:36-38) One of the themes that kept leaping out at me as I read through the meditation was focused on "seeing." Both Simeon and Anna beheld something that was above and beyond anything they could have hoped for or imagined. The saw the promised Messiah. They were witnesses to the glory of God. After I finished reading the meditation it occurred to me that the angel bear no longer was a symbol of pain but of promise. There is a tag attached to the bear which encouragers the recipient to give the bear a name. My mother's friend had named it after my mother. The irony is my mother's first name was Concye (pronounced ConSee). She saw the Lord's salvation and could now be dismissed in peace. I realized that bear also served as a silent witness and saw the glory of God as His ministering angels came to receive my mother's spirit. It gave me a new perspective and a new appreciation for the gift of that bear. I decided to rename the bear "Consolation" because the One who is my Comforter opened my eyes to a new vision beyond what I could have asked for or imagined. At the end of the meditation there is a quote by Gabriele D' Annunzio. "The richest events occur in us long before the soul receives them. And, when we begin to open our eyes to the visible, we have long since committed ourselves to the invisible." The sword of my mother's death has indeed pierced my soul but as I open my eyes to this visible angel bear on the wall I am overwhelmed by her symbolic connection to the invisible God.
It has almost been one month since my mother passed away. Time seems to fly so quickly and as I was observing the changes in nature that are presently occurring all around me, I felt a poem rise up within to express my feelings in this new season. Changes Changes before my eyes I see, Images of sadness and visions of beauty. Life is ending all around, Natures's glory makes no sound. Colors respond to their Savior's command, It's time to sleep in death again. Human bodies frail and weak, In the dying reach their peak. They hear the Father's voice say, "Come! Your time on earth is now all done." His words are spoken from my heart, Over one from whom I must part. Spring will come around once more, And all creation won't ignore, The call of Him who says, "Arise!" As nature opens up her eyes. Human bodies once so weak, Will rise up their Lord to meet. Changes before my eyes I'll see, No more sadness but glory. Seasons there will be no more, And His Presence we will adore. Open up my eyes to see, Beyond the veil that covers me. That this heart which harbors pain, Peace and comfort will regain. Seasons, seasons changing me, Colors in my life will be, Painted by the Master's hand, So one day I'll understand, The power of what our God has done, In the suffering of His Son.