John 20:19-20, 26 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! . . . Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.
Losing someone precious requires a period of time “behind locked doors” for the work of grieving. How long that time will be is different for every person; there’s no “prescription” for grief that works for everyone. I’m always surprised when I’m told, “You should go and comfort [a person recently bereaved] because you understand what they’re going through.” Maybe I understand a little bit, but grief is not cookie-cutter. Unless I have the opportunity to do a lot of listening, I don’t understand this person’s experience. Jesus is the only one who actually does.
I empathize with the disciples hiding behind locked doors because they were afraid. I felt fear even while I anticipated this “homecoming” to São Paulo. What would be the impact of all the memories, so many happy ones, but difficult ones as well? It’s been five years since Karis died, and in August it will be eighteen years since she left home to go to college. Yet walking with a realtor through the house where we lived for nineteen years as our kids grew up, as he evaluated it for sale, felt like a “wrinkle in time” that brought the past close enough to touch.
Still, sharing stories and tears this week, including Karis’s Homegoing, with precious friends who lived those years with our family, Jesus has walked through my locked doors to stand with me. HE is close enough to touch. His sacred presence with me softens the memory-space into joy, and peace. I know he is simultaneously with Karis. Face to face. Fully Home.
So I am remembering Karis’s birthday today with thankfulness and worship. Jesus is ALIVE! He bridges for me Heaven and earth, past and present, grief and celebration.