This past Saturday I attended the life celebration of a friend from the Flint area. He was a super dad, a great friend, and the epitome of what it means to live a life full of love and giving. I rarely saw him angry. He was one of those people who you could rely on. It didn’t matter if he was busy, if you called him, he stopped what he was doing to help. If your car ran out of gas, he was the one who went to get more, so you wouldn’t be stranded. If there was a construction project that got more complicated than it needed to (and which one doesn’t), he’d offer a hand or a word of advice to untangle the snags and snafus.
And my friend could talk. His wisdom came from life. If you had a minute, he would take an hour to tell you how fantastic his children were, the hopes he had for them as they grew and started families of their own, the boys and young men he adopted through scouting, his perception about life in Flint, and life in general. Our Lord brought him home when he was only 55. We are saddened and grieving because we will miss him. And yet we know that he is a shining angel in heaven.
At the funeral, there was a picture drawn by his granddaughter Sylvia that captures our journey to our eternal home. Its title: Stairs to Heaven. The person at the bottom of the stairs is her grandfather and our Lord is waiting for him at the top. Even though he was drawn at the bottom of the staircase, everyone who attended his life celebration knew that he had made it all the way up the stairs and into the everlasting arms of our Lord.
That is what our life journeys are about. We are climbing up, striving to be closer to our Creator. Some staircases are steeper than others. Each is determined by the years we live and how we invest those years in God’s call upon our lives. This picture, drawn by a little girl, encourages us to always look up, to be aware of our destination, and to rise above all that we are experiencing.
We don’t often talk about dying or death. In the midst of our sadness and loss, we may not always be able to see the joy and serenity that arriving at the top of this particular staircase achieves. Our Lord is waiting for each of us to climb the stairs which have been created for our lives. And when each of us reaches the top, we will be welcomed to our eternal home, where there will be no more death, no more crying or pain (Revelation 21). May we continue to receive God’s blessings as we journey onward and upward. And Amen.