Saturday, May 07, 2011

Burying Day

It is Saturday morning in my brother’s house. 
The morning we’ll bury my brother.
The sounds of this house are muted, yet distinct: Saturday morning cartoons are softly playing on a TV somewhere, entertaining young children with no concept of the day’s importance. A hairdryer is already whining as the grown-ups prepare for the rigors and customs of the day ahead. 

The kitchen is filled with the aroma of coffee and pastries in quantities to feed the small army of family and friends that have descended upon this house like a hoard of well-meaning locusts. 

A cool breeze is sweeping the front porch, stacked with portable tables and chairs for the after-event that will be staged here. Inside the house, we’re going through the motions of life, as we prepare to celebrate the life of a remarkable man. 
Our hearts are heavy.

It’s interesting to observe how people deal with death and dying. 
My brother would have been somewhat amused to observe this delicate ballet of personalities and idiosyncrasies in play. Each has busied himself with some perfunctory task to busy the hands and numb the mind while our spirits process what has happened. 

Taking the trash to a dumpster…laying out on the counter rows of coffee mugs…or walking a circuit through the house with an infant…there's a lawn mower droning somewhere on the property in an exhibition of lawn maintenance grief therapy; all necessary things to do to distract from the sadness at hand.

We look at life and death in two-dimensions. 
It’s an either-or-equation: you are either dead or alive, by most estimates. We lose sight of the fact that we actually continue to exist on a different plane, even if our physical bodies do not. The sadness we experienced upon the death of a loved one is because of our lack of perspective on the event.

While I am profoundly saddened at the death of my brother, I heartened by three articles of faith which have sustained me through this dark passage in my life: My brother passed quickly, and did not suffer long; he is living on another plane without pain or sadness; I will see him again. I cannot conceive of having to deal with death under any other conditions.

King David was criticized by his friends when, upon the death of the son he produced with Bathsheba, he got out of his bed and cleaned up to pick up living his life. He told his detractors, in effect, ‘my son is gone, and he cannot come to me; I will go to him.’ (2 Samuel 12:23). 
David had the right perspective.

The 19th Century evangelist, C. H. Spurgeon, wrote about this tug-of-war of wills between men and immortals, expressing it as an argument: Who are we to dispute against a Higher Power the way things work? Is our sadness an expression of our selfishness, or a lack of faith in outcomes? Would we rather that my brother remained with us, suffering in his cancer-ridden body, just so he could be near us? 

I take immense comfort in knowing, on this morning of his final interment, that he is no longer suffering, he’s no longer restlessly pacing, no more does he raise up in the middle of the night expressing frustration over some unsolved problem toying with his brain.

The Lord Jesus prayed on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane that the Father would place his Disciples with Jesus in paradise, and not on this earth, full of its pain and problems. He said, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.” (John 17:24).

When we wish for our loved ones to remain with us instead of making that transcendental trip to the next world, do we not put ourselves in direct opposition to the prayer of Jesus for His Disciples? Whether it’s a lack of faith in our final destination, or simple selfishness on our part, our perspective is shallow, one-dimensional. 

This morning, as the low buzz of conversation rises and falls in the next room, a shower is hissing upstairs, and those stinking Saturday morning cartoons are still chattering in the distance, I am comforted to know that Jesus’ prayer has been answered for my brother. 
He has gone to Him, and by faith I have let him go.

Dr. Craig Clanton
February 28, 1958 - May 3, 2011


Lauren said...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Love to all of you on a difficult day.

Anonymous said...

Brent- we love Craig and all the Clantons. Well said

Mark Montgomery

Kathy Montgomery said...

I hope when I leave this earth as your brother did that someone will write of my life as eloquently and lovingly as you have your beloved brother.

Anonymous said...

Brent, your words are very comforting. I am thankful we were able to be with y'all today. I send my love, support and prayers for all of you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Brent, This is Ray Whitworth. I just read your words from the heart about the loss of your brother. So much love in so few consonants and vowels,and other emotions that words never do justice describing. My thoughts and well wishes are always with you and your lovely bride and family. I look at the calendar of 4 years ago when I felt my life ended,it was over. kaput. You and Mike Shannon stuck in there with me and at times since I felt I chased you away. In the course of that time it was the "proverbial bottom" that happens in life..we hit it and it can go no further. Since then as you may know I finished my college degree with honors (cum laude),got out of radio except I lend a helping hand to Mikes project. I teach and help learning disabled students ages 14-22 in the Arlington ISD,and it is "I" who becomes the "student". They have taught me about life in many ways. Three guys ages 22, 21, 19 I saw graduate 3 weeks ago. One a brain trauma injury, lobes are severely damaged, one autistic /mild retardation, the other and had/autism. The first one was a big guy who ran off other teachers and was prone to violence. His dad is a prominent dentist in Arlington. It was clear to me the kid needed someone to turn him around, and I was drafted. He would try to charge other students lie ka bull, talk back, walk out of class. One day I said I had enough and like the old air force T.I's I saw as a child at Lackland AFB. I "dressed him down" enough was enough. He could have hit me ,but he looked at me muttered and I told him he will not talk, that I had the floor. That day forward was his road to recovery and my learning experience. Today his violence is gone, he says thank you, yes mam , yes sir. opens doors for people. He turned 22 last March. His Dad, Teachers ,staff said I achieved what they couldn't. I just shirked..and said Thank You. Truth of the matter I saw myself in that child from many unpleasant years ago, and I knew what I wanted then was no different than what he wanted now..someone to actually care. Now I am hoping on the 4th try to pas my special education certification test. I missed it on the 3rd try by 7 points of passing. I can do this and I am not quitting those kids need me. So my friend because you cared 4 years ago..those kids benefited from you indirectly. You pay it forward. BTWI met someone a year ago, a wonderful woman.. we will be getting married Oct. 15.she already has bought her dress and Mike will be my best man . Things happen for a reason. You will be broadcasting for a long time to come. The internet is the next phase..Thank You my Friend and God Bless..Ray