Monday, March 8, 2010

Do not abandon me

When I was a child, and growing up in Montagu in the Cape, the Dutch Reformed Church of which we were members, had a custom which I have seen nowhere since. On Mother’s Day the children in the Sunday School were each given a celluloid (no plastic then) rosette to wear – blue if both your parents were still alive, purple if a mother or father was no more, black if you were an orphan. It sounds macabre now, even cruel, but it brought the minister’s homily home to us, left (for me, at least) a lasting impression : Plant flowers now, he pleaded, on your parents’ hearts – do not wait to put flowers on their grave….

This past week both a beloved sister and a young friend passed away. I felt surrounded by death, and as so often before, turned to the psalms for comfort. I would like to share some of the verses with you, using The Good News Bible, the translation being closer to the Afrikaans, which I know so well.

I was daunted, as always, by the reality of Psalm 90, particularly verse 5 : You carry us away like a flood ; we last no longer than a dream. How short life is, and how quickly it passes.

I was deeply moved, as always, by Psalm 116 : 15 How painful it is to the Lord when one of his people dies ! Knowing that God shares in our grief is comfort indeed.

But I was reprimanded, albeit it indirectly, by an old person’s prayer, Psalm 71 : 9 Do not reject me now that I am old ; do not abandon me now that I am feeble.

God never rejects us, He never abandons us. But can the same be said of us, of his servants, those who follow Him in the Name of Christ ?

How many old people live and die alone, in old age homes, in hospitals, with only the hands of strangers for comfort. How many people die without ever being told that they were beautiful or good or wanted or loved.

Whatever the colour of the rosette you are wearing today, plant flowers on the heart instead of on the grave.

Cecile Cilliers

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