When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. ~ Mark 6:47-56

Today’s reading from the Gospel of Mark shares the familiar story of Jesus stilling the storm. these are words that have always provided comfort for me. When I feel the seas around me rolling, I look to my faith as a place of safe harbour, with the love of Jesus to pilot me home.

Since returning from Newfoundland a few weeks ago, I have been struggling to put words to my grief. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I feel a little embarrassed to admit that I have been thrown off my bearings. It feel weak somehow to acknowledge that I am still in mourning. Art Postons, a founding member at St Aidan’s, summed up how I feel perfectly when he approached me upon my return and said, “The world is never the same without our mothers.” It was reassuring to hear this kindly patriarch of the parish acknowledge my pain and grief. Likewise Vicky Andersen embraced me and said, “Bless you Kevin, you are a blessed orphan.” The word orphan startled me at first. Then as the word rolled around inside of me it was a revelation. I was indeed feeling something that I had never felt before, for I could not have.

Thanks to good advice from my Family Doctor, I have been reading the book, Midlife Orphan. Jane Brooks writes;

For most people, the death of a loved one leaves unfinished business. But the death of a last parent does so even more, for when the last parent dies we lose a relationship unlike any other in our life. It’s no wonder that we feel so bereft. Yet, few of us are prepared for the intensity or the duration of our grief. The death of the last parent, an event that we’ve known would obviously happen someday, is a shock to our core in ways that we have not anticipated.   

I have been ‘straining at the oars against an adverse wind’ these past weeks.  That adverse wind has been tightly linked to the loss of a relationship that really is unlike any other, and its bitter gusts have at timejesus_stills_the_storm_by_alexbienen-d3d778ys shocked me to the core in ways I had not indeed not anticipated.  It’s also hard to put into words and also hard to talk about because we live in a world that suggests we should be on our feet and back at it in short order. And so we do, but something inside us still hurts. Grief has no timetable. It does not run on a schedule of employee benefits or cultural expectations.  That I will take time to grieve my mother, and indeed the loss of both my parents, is a given… But there is hope….

One of the benefits of being in a community, is seeing the love of Jesus as manifest in many and varied ways. So many cards, so many letters, so many hugs, so many acts of kindness – Jesus does indeed show up and declare – “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid!” Jesus Stills the storm. Last Friday Jim Smythe informed me that the Parish of St Aidan’s had received gifts in the amount of $2000 from our community and that those funds have been given to the newly formed Parish of the Epiphany in Heart’s Delight, NL. in memory of Vivian George. I was overwhelmed as are my siblings by the generosity of the St Aidan’s community and by the love that those acts of kindness show. Thank you to all who gave. Mom loved the church, she know God in community and would be so very pleased that the four congregations that were the parish of Heart’s Delight have come together to be one Church of the Epiphany. They have much work ahead to convert the School building they purchased into a worship space. The generosity shown in mom’s memory will go a long way to accomplish that work.

There are no doubt turbulent days ahead for me  yet.I face them all knowing that I am in the safe harbour of a community of faith. Are you straining hard against an adverse wind? I pray you allow yourself to be tended to by friends, family and community. In ways that are most gentle and loving, and often in those most unexpected, Jesus speaks and calms our lurking fear. May God be with us all.

As always — your feedback is welcomed…..