Contemplative loss

Dad croppedBy Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

I realize I am lucky. I have a great relationship with my dad. He is a loving, supportive man. He is very much a part of my life even though he died three and a half years ago of a stroke, a brain hemorrhage.

His loving presence, his laughter, his feisty passion crop up in my life on a regular basis. At times I’m brought to tears, at others laughter, and consistently gratitude.

There is a contemplative air about this loss. Although he is not physically here anymore, he is very present emotionally and spiritually and that presence evokes the prayer, “Thank you.”

Now, my dad was no saint and there were plenty of trying times but when I see a man of his build, try a new food, do something adventurous, or hear someone say, “Ray,” I am grateful. Thankful for these memories, the characteristics he passed on to me, the loving relationship we had, the laughs and it is a reminder of that of God in my life.

It is another way for God to remind me, “I’m here with you.”

We all have different ways that God speaks to us, makes the Holy clearly present in our daily lives. Sometimes it depends on how open and aware I am being, but at other times, God bops me on the head with it and I, thankfully, can’t help but be aware.

Sometimes it’s a beautiful view, a full moon, music by Hildegard of Bingen, the children I saw playing in the fountain last night in the summer heat, at others it’s the memories of a loved one, lines of a poem, the tone of a singing bowl.

It’s all evidence of the Grace of living, the Grace in death, and how God shows up in many ways in life.

What is your experience?

October 10, 2013 by Shalem Institute 4 Comments
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10 years ago

Love this! Thankyou

Sent from my Verizon iPhone

Carl Riedy
Carl Riedy
10 years ago

You have many wonderful moments ahead with your dad. The beautiful reality of God’s presence is it’s constancy in every moment of life. My father died 15 years ago now. To this day, the Spirit brings him front and center into my life for strength, compassion, humility and gratitude.
May the Spirit be present today in all of our lives.

Michael Willett Newheart

Thank you for this piece, Stephanie. My mother died two years ago yesterday. We had a rather difficult relationship, but the last week I spent with her was greatly grace-full! She was on the precipice of death but recovered to the extent that she was able to converse pleasantly with me. Just before going to bed last night I remembered that week and I also remembered the 56 years before that. I wrote in my journal that I forgave her for the ways in which she “had done me wrong,” and I asked her forgiveness for ways I had done her wrong. It was quite healing. Thanks again.

10 years ago

Beautiful, Michael. Thank you.


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