Now I took a bit of interest in this obituary for two reasons. First, the happenings of this family aren't that far away from me. I know lots of Wabasso folk and a couple of Springfield people. 2nd, it's quite the example of the human condition at its most honest and raw form.
I had a couple of different members of the congregation I serve ask me what I thought about it. I think it's sad.
It's sad that it appears the deceased made some serious mistakes in her life, and that she never bridged those mistakes with those impacted by her actions.
It's sad that her children were abandoned by her. It's sad that they still hold on to the pain she caused them, and cannot let go.
It's sad that there's probably more to the story - it's complicated, and there isn't any moving past this liminal point for anyone involved. The story ends with bitterness and sorrow.
It's sad that you and I read this obituary - and even laughed at it. Admit it. You chuckled just a little bit, didn't you? I did.
The Greek word in the New Testament for forgiveness is aphemi (pronounced ah-fay-me). It literally means to "send away" or "let go." It doesn't mean the "this-for-that I apologize & you forgive me when I say I'm sorry" that we tend to think forgiveness means. No, it means to let go. It’s so that something no longer has power over you. That it no longer defines you. It’s so that sin, yours or other peoples’ is no longer a noose around your neck. It's not about getting that other jerk to say, "I’m sorry." It's about you being able to move on, not weighed down by sin – yours or someone else’s.
So why would I like this bluntly honest obituary? The obituary that bares all the private drama in a classless way to all the world over the magical interwebs? I like it for a few reasons.
I like it because there is hope in letting go. Maybe after publishing it, Gina & Jay can have some closure, and let go of the pain their biological mother caused them. Because it’s visible they’re holding that pain close to their hearts.
I like it because there is hope in the judgement that Gina & Jay reference about their mother. Kathleen’s judgement might actually go pretty well. Does she deserve eternal life? Oh hell no. But neither do you or me. At her judgement, she might grasp everything that she has done that has separated herself from other people and from God, and she might just see everything that has been done for her on the cross. She might be put in a state of amazing awe... not punishment.
I like the obituary for, well, here's the real kicker... The real shocker… Are you really that different? Are you really that different from Kathleen? Her sin is open for everyone to see. Yours isn't. And lest you think you're a lot better than her for never acting on your lusts, well... ummm.... Jesus says you aren't.
Are you any different from her kids, Gina & Jay? Is there that co-worker who you think just doesn't belong in this world? Do you really dislike that other political persuasion that you think holds no value? That family member who really gets to you? Chances are pretty good you have someone who you wish wasn’t around, who you think the world would be better off without. The only difference between you and Gina & Jay is you haven’t published your thoughts for everyone to see.
We all have junk in our hearts that we hold on to and weighs us down. So, I like the bluntly honest obituary that goes against most better judgements. Why? Because it just might bring the truth out within us, by making us look in a mirror at ourselves.
With that truth, we just might be able let go of those things. After all, what has God done for us? How much have the things we’ve done weigh God down? If God can let those things go, perhaps we can do the same - with ourselves and with others.