Where to begin? What to say?
He was a good man, a crazy friend, a character, an operator, an entrepreneur. He was a story teller, funny, gregarious, outgoing, and mischievous. He was a rancher, a pilot, an excellent shot, a great golfer, an Aggie. “He was fun to be with and we had some good times.” “I loved Bo and sometimes I just wanted to pinch his head off.” “We were the best of friends until we had a big falling out.” “He’ll be missed.”
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard about Bo since he died. And I suspect each of your could add to that list.
There’s a lot that could be said about Bo and probably a lot that has already been said – good, bad, and indifferent. But that’s not unique to or about only Bo. That’s also true about you and me. There’s a lot that could be said about each of us here today and probably a lot that has already been said – good, bad, and indifferent.
And the thing that strikes me about that, especially on days like today when we gather because a life on this earth has ended, is that God wastes nothing of our lives – not the good, not the bad, not the indifferent. What God creates God loves and what God loves God loves everlastingly.
Nothing of Bo, you, or me is wasted with God. Nothing – not our joys or our sorrows, not our successes or our failures, not the times when we were on top of the world or the times we lost our way, not the best in us or the worst in us, not the times we were true and authentic to ourselves or the times we betrayed ourselves or someone else, not our ups or our downs, not our sanity or our craziness.
I think that’s what St. Paul is getting at when he writes:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
Nothing is outside or beyond the presence and love of God. That’s not usually how we see ourselves or each other. We often take a particular story or event – good, bad, or indifferent – and let that be the defining characteristic of ourselves and each other. And when we do we waste the fullness of a life.
But that’s not what God does. No one’s life can be captured or defined by a particular moment or event. God neither edits nor wastes any part of our life. Instead, God loves us into the next sentence, paragraph, or chapter of our life’s story.
God is always continuing the story of life. That’s the reassurance Jesus offers Thomas in today’s gospel (John 14:1-6). Thomas is lost, grieving, and afraid. “How can we know the way?” he asks Jesus. It’s a question we ask throughout our lives and especially on days like today.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus tells Thomas and us. And then he promises presence and life. “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Life is changing, not ending.”
Isn’t that what we want to know on days like today? Isn’t that what we want to hear when a loved one has died? We want to know that his or her story of life continues and that we’ll be a part of it. What does that mean for you and Bo?
Take a moment and remember, recall, the ways in which your life and Bo’s life intersected. What are the stories of you and Bo?
In what ways did he touch your life? What did he do or give for which you will always be grateful? What’s the best mischief he ever got you into? What are your funniest stories about Bo? And what are the saddest stories? What were your best times with him and what were your most difficult?
What are the stories of you and Bo that melt your heart, that you never want to forget? And what are the stories of you and Bo that break your heart and you wish you could forget?
Now let me ask you this. What do you need to do with those stories? What are they asking of you? To celebrate him? To thank him? To forgive him? To ask his forgiveness? To wish him well? To tell him what he means to you? To tell him that you love him? To bless him?
God will not end the story of life. That would be a waste. Let’s you and me not end it either. God will waste nothing of Bo’s life, your life, or my life. Let’s you and me not waste a thing either. Let’s continue the story.
What needs to happen for you to continue the story of Bo? Isn’t that really what resurrection is about, continuing the story of life? Isn’t that our hope on this day – for Bo and for ourselves?
Isn’t that why even at the grave we make our song, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia?”