Monday, September 5, 2016

Willy Wonka and the Holy Spirit

Many friends posted about Gene Wilder after he passed last week. I loved these reflections, because Wilder was pure genius. His spirit moved many of us through the humor and humanity of his great characters. My favorite was Willy Wonka.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory contained many great literary allusions ( lines from Shakespeare’s plays and other great works. One of Wonka’s lines, taken from Romeo & Juliet, is a favorite:

“Adieu, adieu. Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Processing loss or life's inevitable pain can be one helluva task. Maybe it's the death of a loved one, bitter divorce or an ended relationship, career disappointment or someone just being a persistent horse's ass. The processing pattern is similar – realization, grief, acceptance. What’s ahead is what we make of it … Is it entrenchment, blame or resentment? Real movement? Will we trust or try again? What will we own? Is joy on the horizon? Will it be some combination?

I was at my cousin Ginny’s beautiful wedding last night. We felt joy for Ginny and her handsome husband Michael. I saw Michael’s eyes honoring Ginny as my Uncle Doug escorted her down the aisle. I remembered that feeling of complete trusting, faithful love, at my wedding and in my marriage. Tears of joy combined with tears of sadness for their new beginning and from an old loss. Before establishing their holy matrimony, Father Mike said this Irish Prayer: “May you live to comb the hair of your children’s children,” beautiful words that evoked a variety of emotions.

This year has been full of significant change and movement. Loss made an appearance again. Lately, acceptance has been on a roll. What does life look like? I’m getting ready to move into a new house. The clutter in my house is gone. My mind is clear, too. The focus is on what I have learned, not on what I cannot or couldn’t control, with great appreciation for love that was and continues around me.

Life isn't always easy, but it is good! My vibrant, sassy daughter is off to a great start in college. My son is an engaged, inquisitive young man, handsome and easy to be around. A family member who I thought might not trust and love again is experiencing tremendous joy in a relationship. Another has loosened the grip on the rope of resentment. How do such good things come about, after great losses? Serendipitously? Maybe. Or maybe it’s something else.

Some turn to Him, and do better than most. Some turn away, and struggle more than others. Dori didn’t turn away. She turned to Him. My immediate family learned this, on our own time, but we certainly learned not to harbor resentment after loss.

After the doctors in Houston told Dori she had little time, she struggled mightily. Both of us prayed for acceptance and peace. When we came back to Nashville, she struggled with how to tell our children. “What am I going to tell Kathryn and Will?” she asked. “It will come to you, love.”

When she told two innocent, precious souls she was going to die soon, they listened in shock. Then she said she didn’t understand God’s plan, then this:

“Every day, say the Lord’s Prayer. When you say “Thy Will Be Done,” you’re either just saying it or believing it. I believe it, and I love you.”

There are great examples like this around you and me today. People who accept the Holy Spirit and deal with their pain and humanity beautifully. People who live life like Gene Wilder did, after he lost his funny and loving Gilda.

They know the crosses we bear aren’t easy, but they know how to trust and follow the Greatest Example of All.

Much love and peace.