We are standing in one of the rooms of the funeral home, where we scraped the last plates from our repass. Our bellies are now stuffed with fried chicken, mac and cheese, and other fond items that swim in our childhood memories of Sunday soul food dinners.
I lean against the concrete wall, straddling it with my back in a way so as to keep myself together, not so much physically, but emotionally. I think my friends next to me are doing the same.
We stain the air with words that seem meaningless, and yet, at the same time, vital. Meaningless because this woman who was a powerhouse in all of our lives is no longer physically present and so whatever we discuss just seems minimal. Vital because we don’t know who’s next.
I say something similar to one of my sisters, who’s been there also, playing the background in the last two decades of my life, while zooming to meet any need that needs to be filled. She asks me what I’m up to these days, although she knows a lot of what I’m up to because she follows my social media.
I make jokes about being so busy I’m trying to keep up with myself, then grow serious in my response. I’m sure my brows sink, and the corners of my lips fall downward, as I say, “I’m just trying to slow down these days.”
She replies with a questionable nod. “What does that mean?” she asks.
I share about the recent sudden tragedies that have happened. And how even though I know that what I’m doing with my writing and career is important, I can’t get so caught up in it that I miss the moments with people that matter. It’s a hard balancing act I haven’t quite figured out yet, but I know it has something to do with taking in moments like these.
When all is said and done, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t spend time with the ones who were important. The ones who laid down their lives for me to be where I am today. The ones like Dianne Palmer.
My friend’s eyes enlighten as she understands what I’m saying. Yes, I am doing “kingdom work”. Yes, it’s purposeful. But I don’t want my work to veer me off into a lane that passes up the opportunities to connect with folks who aren’t moving so fast.
As we dialogued, another friend standing nearby almost punctured his back while rubbing against the concrete wall. There was a sturdy, nail poking out of it that he had been trying to avoid for a while but he finally lost that fight.
When he jerked forward from pain it was the perfect example of how at any moment, things can go left. The plan can get thwarted.
Another spiritual mother, who was close to our now glorified friend, shared her own response to this sudden event. “This was not a part of the plan,” she said. But in her grief and sadness, she knew the Father was showing her, there is a greater plan.
When we have an eternal view, those of us who believe are strengthened when life has so many hard jagged edges to it. We are driving along a smooth road, and all seems well when suddenly there is a cliff that we almost speed over, or a large rolling stone that tumbles onto our path, or a giant sudden deer that races out into the open.
There is something, anything, that changes our idea of what the journey is supposed to look like. That is called life.
I know that I am surrounded by beautiful people. A tribe of men and women whose hearts are pure. They want what’s best for me and best for others and are a light to this world. I’m grateful to have been embedded into this community of faithful, loving souls. I think all these things while driving my spiritual father to his residence after the funeral. I tell him, “You did good,” when I embrace him. He is such an example of steadiness to me and so many.
Seeing him in pain, my heart is squeezed, but I have a job for him. I tell him how I tried putting air in my tires but to no avail. Even though I did it before successfully, for some reason, I couldn’t replicate that success.
And as he has done so many times before, in all the years he’s been in my life, he whips out his tools, goes to work, and solves my problem.
And I know, I was not supposed to be able to do this seemingly simple thing, put air in my tires. He was supposed to. That is his role in my life.
That was the greater plan.
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