Tomorrow I will be speaking at the funeral for Vicki's grandmother, Lucille Riddle. I've never done this, and on some level I'm nervous. But mostly, I'm not. I've spoken in front of folks before, and am fairly confident in the ability to get up, say something, and sit back down. That's the easy part, actually. But knowing what to say, how to say it, why to say what is said – that's where it goes deeper, isn't it?
Like many women, wives, mothers in our culture, living in the times of good and bad, war and peace, plenty and lack, she had many names, many jobs, many titles. Lucille. Nanny. Great Nanny. Mom. Lucille-turn-out-that-light-in-there. Nan. Mrs. Riddle. She was many things to many people. As we gather in the morning, the room will be filled with those who have been touched by her life, by her servant's heart, by her compassion. The world gets to know someone over the course of ninety-one years. That's a long time to gather titles, to collect names like Lucille. Nanny. Great Nanny. Mom. Lucille-turn-out-that-light-in-there. Nan. Mrs. Riddle.
When I first met her in her spry seventies, she was fond of leading expeditions for the kids into the fields and brambles behind the house. She'd point out this bush and that berry, watch your step there, we used to pick that over there. My kids, your kids, you kids, have memories of a great-grandmother who liked to traipse through the world, looking for adventure. This was Lucille. Nanny. Great Nanny. Mom. Lucille-turn-out-that-light-in-there. Nan. Mrs. Riddle.
I shared with Cammi that we are supposed to grieve when loved ones pass from this life into the next. It's supposed to hurt. It's supposed to leave some questions. And it's supposed to spur us on to live out the life – take what this loved one has done and multiply it, live it out in your world, at your school, in your workplace and homelife. The character trait that jumps out to me about Nanny's life was a real attitude of service and compassion. Or, to put it the way many of you will understand – "Don't you want another biscuit?" If you came to visit, you came to eat. You came to sit while she was there to serve and to fix a meal and to make sure you had enough. I could never quite explain to her that I wasn't going to go hungry. In her DNA, in her life as a Christian, she had to give of herself, and often that meant giving of the refrigerator and the cupboards to make sure you weren't hungry. This was Lucille. Nanny. Great Nanny. Mom. Lucille-turn-out-that-light-in-there. Nan. Mrs. Riddle.
In John 14, Jesus is speaking with His disciples. It's just before the Crucifixion, just before the most historic world-changing event ever. And He tells them that He is going to prepare a place for them, that where He is, they might be also. We like to think that means mansions in heaven, that the rigors of this life will pass into a nice place on a hill with a great view. We like to think we'll be living in mansions in heaven. But here's the catch that, I think, came out in Nanny's life. That word that the KJV translates as "mansions" is the same word, the noun form, of the word in John 15 that translates as "abide" – "If you abide in Me and I in you" – John 15:5. I think the life that Nanny lived out was one of abiding – that not only can we think of her as moving into her own mansion, but that she's also been "living out of that mansion" all along, living out a life that is full of servanthood, compassion, love from the heart of Jesus. And quite frankly, I think it's something that we can strive for as well, that it's something we can live out today, tomorrow, next week, as we also seek to mansion and abide with Jesus as He's prepared for us.
This weekend as we remember Lucille. Nanny. Great Nanny. Mom. Lucille-turn-out-that-light-in-there. Nan. Mrs. Riddle. I pray that we remember how she lived. And in the frame of mind from those last passages, we can remember where she lived, the place where she got her strength, her resolve, her compassion.
[check out the Transition series from Wayne Jacobsen @ Lifestream]