A Special Cloud

A cloud of love

 

There’s been a cloud hovering over our house for the last few days. A special cloud. A cloud filled with love.

Ruth, our newest resident moved into Country Comforts Assisted Living (our condo) on Friday. She’s 94 and is receiving hospice care. When her family moved her into her room, Ruth was too weak to walk, but she was very happy to be here with us and to have her family helping her get settled for her last stage on this earth. Over the last three days, Ruth has relaxed and is slipping into the transition to her next life. At times she is able to talk with her family members, and at times she is just resting. Her two daughters and her son, her grandchildren and great grandchildren are filling the house with their love. The positive energy created by all the love shared in this family is filling the house with peacefulness – “a cloud of love.”

On Saturday, I played the organ for a funeral in our church. It was a small gathering for family only, about 30 people. I didn’t know the person who died or his family personally, but some family members described the man as someone who had some very good traits and some very bad traits. He was a successful salesman and a volunteer athletic coach for young people in the neighborhood. He had lots of friends and was always the life of the party. But he was also an alcoholic and was abusive to his family. His children, now adults with their own children, were afraid of him. His grandchildren loved him. Despite the abuse, his wife and children loved him, too. There was a cloud of love hovering over this family, as well.

The funeral began traditionally with an opening hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” and scripture readings. The pastor started his homily by reciting this poem:

Within my earthly temple there’s a crowd;
There’s one of us that’s humble, one that’s proud;
There’s one that’s brokenhearted for his sins
And one who, unrepentant, sits and grins;
There’s one who loves his neighbor as himself
And one who cares for naught but fame and wealth.
From such corroding care I would be free
If once I could determine which is me.
     [“My Name Is Legion” by Edward Sanford Martin]

We sang another hymn – “Just As I am,” an interesting complement to the poem.  The closing hymn was “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” The funeral ended non-traditionally. The family was going to go on a boat ride to spend the day together, enjoying the love they experienced as a family. Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love! The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. The cloud of love continues to surround this family.

The poem the pastor recited captured my attention, so I asked him for a copy of it.

Within my earthly temple there’s a crowd …
If once I could determine which is me.

Which is me? I guess we all ask ourselves that question at times. Take my dog, Abbey, for instance. To all the elderly men and women who have lived with us for assisted living care, Abbey becomes their best friend. She is kind and loving and always willing to shower them with kisses – in exchange for some petting, or possibly a few left-overs slipped off their dinner plate. But to Ashley, the golden retriever next door, Abbey is a ferocious, territorial bully. I wonder if Abbey ever wonders about which of her manifestations is the real her.

We’re all complex people presenting many different faces to many different people. Maybe our name is “Legion” as the poem suggests.

Over the last few days I have been reminded that regardless who we are, God has blessed us all with a “cloud of love.” The energy in the cloud may originate with family, or friends, or even strangers. God’s love surrounds us. Perhaps whatever clouds we see today can be reminders of that love.

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