My favorite memory of my friend Jerry is something I'm sure he said weekly as an usher in our church. First, I must explain that our church is laid out in a unique way and if you are on the side of adult classes, you must either go outside or walk back through the sanctuary to get to the children's classes or the back parking lot. Since our family typically attends the early service and Jerry handed out the bulletins at the late service, we would pass by Jerry each week to get back to the other side of the church (especially lately in this cold weather, I took the shortcut). And each week, Jerry would ask, "JPT?". For Jerry, "JPT" stood for "just passing through". And nearly every week, we would reply to Jerry, "JPT, we are just passing through". Jerry left this earth and went on to heaven this week. JPT now has a new meaning to me and I'm sure to a few others as well. Because we are indeed all just passing through, aren't we?
If you spotted me yesterday morning, it was likely you heard me as well. The tears could simply not be slowed down. It all started when I spotted my parents. You see in the last week, not only have I been reminded by Jerry's life that we are all JPT, but I've watched my closest friends say goodbye to some very special family members in their lives as well. Some of those goodbyes were sudden and some of them were not. But, it surely doesn't make saying goodbye much easier. And, when I saw my parents on Sunday, and thought of all these great individuals I personally know who have passed away all in the same week, the emotions simply came pouring out.
Yes, the tears eventually ceased and I felt better after a good Sunday afternoon nap. But, honestly, it isn't easy watching others leave this earth, even when we know earth is temporary. We all know there is no guarantee of how many days we will walk this earth. The one absolute guarantee is that we are only here for a relatively short time. And, I believe many of us agree that the guarantee that follows is even greater because we then have eternal life. I know this - good grief - I know this. This is not a news flash or new information. I do think that it is good to grieve the loss of great people and it is also good to celebrate what lies ahead.
In processing the loss and grief that has surrounded me this week, I was reminded that even Jesus showed his grief when his friend, Lazarus, died. We just don't have the ability to bring our friends back like Jesus did! So, let this time of just passing through help us appreciate the one life we do have. Here is to finding beauty in the everyday things, hugging the ones you love, celebrating the lives of the ones you've lost, making a difference, giving back, loving until it hurts, weeping until the tears run dry, capturing moments you don't want to end, and simply living life to the fullest.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC