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The conch and the quilt

I picked up a little conch shell yesterday on the beach at Mooloolaba. Its inhabitant was gone, perhaps back to the sea, and all that was left was a beautiful work of art that now sits on my desk. It reminded me of the beautiful quilt that my mother had prepared for her own funeral, left with instructions to be draped over her coffin. And so it was. A beautiful picture. The simple wooden box adorned with gorgeous needlework.

But in many ways, it was like the pretty conch, just the shell. Its much-loved inhabitant now departed and in the arms of Jesus. Says the Book in a passage about death and the afterlife, that Jesus will bring with him at the end of days those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). That’s encouraging. It means that the souls of our loved ones who are beloved in Christ are not still in their coffins, nor hovering over the fields and gardens where their remains have been scattered, but in heaven with Jesus. It means that the ‘goodbye’ that we say to them on earth is really ‘till we meet again’. It means that their reappearing shall not be in some lonely cemetery, but in the train of light that fills the sky at the return of the Lord of glory.

O we grieve indeed at the death of those we dearly love, but not with a grief that is vacuous and vain, but with a grief that is threaded with hope and quilted with love.

DM 13th April 2014

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