Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Communion of Saints

Maybe this is something that comes to us as we enter the mid-century mark. We get slapped upside the head by death. Too many people die. And too many of them die too soon.

On March 29 – during the last week of Lent this year – my friend Lee Davenport killed himself. As I wrote here, I knew Lee was troubled, but I didn’t realize the depth or despair of his troubles.

In the aftermath of Lee’s death, I had some intense e-mail exchanges with Roseann Allen-Matthews, who blogged at Give Peace A Chance, Please. Both she and I (as well as others) had tried to befriend Lee. Both of us felt we had failed him. Roseann ministered to me in those days and weeks after Lee’s death. I hope she felt I ministered to her, too.

Then Roseann went into a serious health decline. Her kidneys were failing. She needed a transplant, but none could be found. She went on dialysis. She went into hospice. During her long decline, she blogged, she commented on other blogs, and she radiated joy and hope. In the last days, she radiated grace. Profoundly.

And now she, too, has died. Grandmère Mimi carried the last couple of news posts – the news of Roseann’s death on Saturday and the notice of her funeral. I wish I could make it to Roseann’s funeral tomorrow, but my work obligations make it impossible.

So I am left to ponder this death alone. But not quite alone, for many in our blogging community are talking about it. And many of us treasure this silly photo she gave us. I treasure hearing their words, even though I have not been able to articulate my thoughts until this meager offering.

Roseann was fiercely, joyfully, and sometimes irreverently in love with life. With me, she railed against Lee’s untimely death, grieved that he gave up on hope. She clung fiercely to life as long as she could do so … then gradually accepted her impending death with a grace that still leaves me in awe. Read her last few posts for a taste of that. On November 10th, the last day she had the strength to blog, she wrote:
I believe that I am living in a state of grace at this moment. I could write pages on how this feels and how it affects my perception but I am far too inarticulate to give it justice. My spirit feels so light and blessed. Thank you all for everything.

Tonight's [Holy Eucharist] will be glorious and I hope you will all join me in spirit.
and later:
Friends, I enjoyed, rejoiced and celebrated HE [Holy Eucharist] in a way that is still giving me the chills. I felt so much love and I was able to return that love. I will always be grateful. I could feel you all with me and if love were a color this house would still saturated.

Thank you all for your presence in my life. Thank you, thank you.

Oh, and FYI if I haven't told you already Dr. Kimball says passing should be very gentle, that my heart till just stop. I feel comforted by that fact.

Love you all and I'll try to write more tomorrow.

Love, R
That’s the last time she wrote to us.

She’s in the arms of the angels now. As is our mutual friend, Lee. Lee in the last days of Lent. Roseann as we approach Advent.

I don’t know what “Heaven” is. I believe it is a spiritual place in which we meet God – where we know God and are fully known, where we finally enter into Truth we have only glimpsed dimly in this life.

And I have a fantasy that Roseann has sought out our friend Lee, given him a dope-slap, and embraced him with an everlasting love – she who clung to life so fiercely, speaking to him who gave it up all too soon.

I sing a song of the saints of God – including Saint Lee and Saint Roseann. Tonight, it feels like Sarah McLaughlin sings it as well as any of our Anglican hymodists.

Both have been pulled from the wreckage.

Let it be.


Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Grace and peace to both Roseann and Lee as they enjoy citizenship in "that heavenly country." We are richer people having known both of 'em.

11/24/2009 6:35 AM  
Blogger Fran said...

I am sitting here weeping and without words. This post is so rich and such a gift - which is exactly what Lee was and Roseann was- and are still, even now that they are deep within the heart of God.

11/24/2009 6:41 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Lisa, for your eloquent words and your honest transparency. You are a brave woman to be so transparent in this time of grief and sorrow. Know that God is with you. Your friends love you. You are not alone.

11/24/2009 7:54 AM  
Blogger episcopalifem said...

This is truly moving Lisa.

These deaths have touched a deep place in me, although I can't claim to have known either of them well - I knew of Lee from my brief forays at Beliefnet and I suppose I knew Roseann from those days as well - and through her numerous pithy comments around blogland.

I often prayed for both of them in life, and can only hope, like you, that there is peace for them both at last.

McLachlan's song is a most appropriate choice, I think.

11/24/2009 8:23 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Deep thanks for your kind words, friends. But this was merely the widow's mite.

They are missed.

And even at the grave we say Alleluia, Alleluia.

11/24/2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Widow's mite - worth more than all the gold.

11/24/2009 9:07 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Periodically a gorgeous poppy photo shows up on my desktop -- one I got from Lee. His blog was taken down (made private) before I could get any more of his flower photos but I am glad to have the occasional reminder because I pray for him still.

11/24/2009 3:15 PM  
Blogger it's margaret said...

Bless you Lisa. And thank you for this post. Grief and love. Holy places and thoughts braided. God bless you.

11/24/2009 9:37 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

A lovely tribute and moving, appropriate song. Thank you Lisa. They have been and still are surrounded with love.

11/25/2009 9:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, my friends. Yes to all you have said. Amen.

11/26/2009 12:59 AM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Prayers ascendng!

11/29/2009 1:39 AM  

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