Monday, May 05, 2008

Moment of Sadness

A saint of our church, Bud, died about a week and a half ago. He has been a leader, and as Pastor Amy likes to say, a pastor in our church for many years.

Tolkien wrote that fairy stories help us to work out the truth in our own lives, by allowing us to explore truth in other worlds. The archetypes and patterns in these stories are comforting because they translate easily into our own lives. In times of grief and struggle, these stories have often helped me to give voice to my own pain, and lately I have been thinking about Bud in light of the mentor archetype.

In trying to describe what he means to me, I have been telling people that he was the "Moses of our church." He lived the life of a prophet, urging us to do the difficult work of moving forward and reaching out. He has been instrumental in starting new ministries, and in blending our three congregations into one community of faith. As we continue to live into the vision God has given us, it is tempting to say, "What will we do without Bud?"

In the last month or so, as our church and youth group has weathered some storms, I have missed Bud’s presence. He has supported and encouraged me since I was a teenager, treating me with respect, honoring my ministry, and even making sure I was being paid “enough to live on.” I have been thinking about the moment in stories, when the mentor figure dies and the hero has to learn to stand on his or her own. The mentor rarely lives to see the vision fulfilled. In these stories, the hero despairs, not knowing that the mentor will somehow reappear later and everything will be made right.

Tolkien also says that these stories point us to the hope that we have in the resurrection; death is not the end, and someday things will be made right. Eventually, we learn that the mentor has taught us enough to help us reach the eucatastrophe. I have always paused at the moment in a story when all seems lost, because unless we feel the despair, we don’t full appreciate the “joyful upturn.” Today I am poised in that moment of sadness, but the stories I know are moving me gently toward joy.

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. - Dumbledore

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