(Kelly, Bradene, Stacey, & Me in August 2011)
Kelly was devoted to her family and friends. She was devoted to music. And she was devoted to Christ. I want to lift up this last piece, her devotion to Christ. Jesus was her Savior, Lord, and Friend. She listened for his voice in her daily life. Like a lot of women and men, Kelly loved the book Jesus Calling; it helped her imagine Christ speaking to her.
Imagine what Christ is saying to us today, as we celebrate and remember Kelly’s life. To help us listen to Jesus, here’s a portion of a story from the Gospels. Christ has been called to the home of a little girl who has died. This is what happens after he arrives:
And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but he charged them to tell no one what had happened. (Luke 8.51-56 RSV)
So Jesus comes to a home where a girl has died. Everyone is crying and mourning, as they should be. Death is not a natural part of life – death is the enemy of life. Death is an ugly thing, and no disease comes from God.
Jesus understands their sorrow, but responds in an odd, almost playful way. He says “She isn’t dead, only sleeping.” They laugh at him. His own disciples and the girl’s parents laugh at him. I love their honest reaction. She may look peaceful, but she certainly isn’t asleep. This they know. Jesus disagrees, though, because he knows something they don’t know.
All of us live our lives within a frame. What is real is what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. We live inside this frame, and if there is a world beyond it, we’re not really sure. The frame is what we know. Jesus knows differently. He knows what we perceive with our senses is only a slice of all that is real. Jesus knows there is no frame – there is only the unbounded love of God. This is why he could say, “She’s not dead, only sleeping.”
If you knew Kelly, you knew she loved yoga. She took yoga classes. She taught a yoga class here at church. Sometimes she would demonstrate a pose that was too flexible for the rest of us. And we’d look at one another and laugh. But we’d try anyway because Kelly’s enthusiasm carried us on.
In a yoga practice, you move through a series of poses. Each has a name. You’re a mountain, or a plank, or a dog, or a cobra, or a child, or a warrior, or a stargazer, to name a few. Life itself is like this. In life we go through a series of poses. We bend this way; we bend that way. Some poses are easy; other are strenuous. But you go on, pose after pose, year after year.
A yoga practice always ends with the same pose. It is called by its Sanskrit name: Shavasana. You hear the yoga teacher say, “Find your way to Shavasana now.” If it’s been a hard yoga practice, you may be grateful to hear this. In Shavasana you lie flat on your back, with eyes closed and palms open to the sky. It is restful. Shavasana translates as ‘corpse pose.’ You end a yoga practice as if a corpse, resting from your labors. It’s the last pose in yoga, and it’s the last pose in our earthly life.
On Tuesday, Kelly found her way to Shavasana. It was hard, strenuous, but she found the pose. She found rest. And in that instant, two things happened. First, she broke through the frame and discovered there never was a frame to begin with. There is only the unbounded love of God, embracing all creation. The second thing that happened when Kelly found Shavasana: she heard Jesus Calling her. He said to Kelly the same thing he says to the little girl in the Gospel reading. “Child, arise.” Arise. Amen.