By Brenda Black
Funerals are not among my top favorite social gatherings. My ability to empathize deeply makes ministry to the grieving emotionally draining personally. Still, we count it an honor to be there for people when they need us most. Together, my pastor husband and I have counseled and comforted, preached and sung our way through a hundred sad gatherings and sorrowful good byes. How wonderful when those farewells can celebrate life more than bemoan death.
Recently, the mourners came in smiling, laughing and honoring a long and lovely life. Though little Ruthella fell shy of 5 foot, she cast a long shadow over her community and left a legacy. She lived life well for nearly 97 years. That's a lot of time. Time to be born and time to die. Time to plant and time to uproot. Time to tear down and time to build. Time to weep and time to laugh. Time to mourn and time to dance. Time to love and time to hate. Time for war and time for peace. Though she racked up decades of opportunities to do it all, she was content to just do what she did best, and bloom right where she was planted.
Her vast extended family remembered a woman who spent most of that time living, planting, building, laughing, dancing and loving on all of them. She chose kindness, forgiveness and gentleness, whether enduring hefty trials or just every day messes. According to those who knew her best, she never lost her temper, never raised her voice. She just took it all in stride with an easy-going demeanor. Perhaps her longevity was due to her passivity. She let a whole lot roll off her near-to-the-ground shoulders that could have weighed the little lady down. She resisted the temptation to retaliate. As a result, she wore grace as her garment instead of rage. Her pattern must be the healthy path to take. It obviously served her well.
It is a fact, that the opposite is true. A person filled with anger destroys himself and his reputation. Hot-tempered fools self-destruct from high blood pressure, heart attacks and ulcers. They poison relationships and create animosity and enemies.
Hate begets hate. Rage embitters and distances. But a quiet and gentle spirit produces peace and praise. Ruthella's example left a big, beautiful wake of grace.
Frankly, I'd like to live more in her tiny boots than walk in big, worldly shoes. I'm tired of the rage and rants in society. Everybody seems to have a bone to pick. At the drop of a hat, we come out with dukes up and fighting mad over any little thing. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I'd just like to see more of it devoted to good things. Maybe if we lived more like Ruthella and less like rebels, always with a cause, we'd live life well and others would want it to be long.