My maternal grandmother, whom we called G.G., died when she was 93.   As a family of faith, we knew G.G. was at peace in her eternal home. 

However, many of G.G.’s great grand kids were elementary school age when she passed, and my brother was concerned that his young children might be traumatized by losing someone they knew well.

At the wake, he escorted each of his children up to the open casket for a gentle, but needed, goodbye to their great grandmother, watching closely for signs of distress.

He told them that G.G. was with Jesus, who loved her very much.   He explained that G.G. looked different because her spirit had gone to heaven, but we didn’t have to be sad because G.G. was with Grandpa Horace now too, and she was very happy. 

Eight-year old David processed this information matter-of-factly and responded, “I know G.G.’s in heaven. This is just her earth suit.”   

I’ve recalled that remark at every funeral I have attended since.   I can’t summon a better, more succinct narrative of life on earth.   It’s a temporary state.

Our body propels us around the planet, but at heaven’s door, it’s discarded like the cocoon after the butterfly emerges.   We need it for a time, but not forever.   And it’s not who we are, it’s just what we use while we’re here.

Our earth suit serves a purpose, but it’s not the purpose.  It’s the JUST.

It’s JUST the vehicle in which we navigate through life, acquiring and creating, working and playing, attaching and detaching, laughing and crying.  It gets us around, but it eventually wears out.

It’s our temporary housing.

As I've reflected on this over the years (here's David today, in his earth suit, with daughter Maddy in hers) I've learned it's important to focus less on the earth suit and more on the spirit that resides within.

I need to identify my personal strengths and challenge my weaknesses.  Find ways to contribute.  Clean out the emotional cobwebs and maintain honest relationships. 

I want to cultivate a life of purpose and substance, so when the earth suit releases me, I've got something to show for it.  When I'm at heaven's door, I don't want to be held back by regrets or unresolved issues. 

I want to be “shed-ready”, not imprisoned like I’m wearing a floor-length gown with a string of tiny buttons down the back.  I want to live in roomy sweat pants, ready to fly when the time comes.




Gigi said...

Love, love, love this story! Kids have more of a grasp on the truth that we grown-ups do! Well, sometimes... When Kari told Caleb (our 8-year-old grandson) that Papa (my Dad) had passed away he said, "We don't have to be sad. It's ok to be a little sad but not real sad because the real Papa is in heaven with Jesus and we will all see him again someday." Then he turned to his sister, Hannah, and said, "Well, maybe not you..."

Chatty Crone said...

This WAS ONE OF THE BEST serious and meaningful posts I have ever read. I am going to post it on my one right before surgery and I am saving it for me to remember.

How'd you get so smart? Smarter than ole chatty even????