Yesterday there was a gathering at the church to celebrate the life of Margot Thomson. Many of you will remember Margot and Sandy who had regularly attended Highlands since the mid-80s. Their kids were married at Highlands. Grandkids baptized among us. They had been part of our community for nearly 50 years. And it was such a gift to gather and celebrate the blessing of those years and Margot’s life and character. Her granddaughter referred to her as a “sparkplug.” Don’t you dream of someday being referred to by a grandchild as a sparkplug?
It felt like an apt description of one who had such a keen, albeit agile to the point of mystifying, mind. She was such a blessing to every study group she attended, and she attended most of them.
I was talking with one of her grandkids afterwards and we were talking about the big space she leaves in her family. He acknowledged that, and then he turned it around. He said as true as that is, he also looks at the fact that here he is in his adulthood, having had his grandma all this time and what a gift that is- how lucky he is. How easily he was able to turn an experience of loss into an experience of blessing by looking at it differently. How you look at life, and how you choose to tell the story, makes all the difference.
On Sunday, we will hear the ancient story of the Ascension of Jesus. It is an odd tale to the modern ear. Jesus, “taken up to heaven.” Weird. But isn’t that just another example of the way the early church turned an experience of absence into an experience of presence by looking at it differently?
We have a great story tradition, rooted in the belief, and the experience of endings that are also beginnings. Life is filled with endings: endings of jobs, endings of innocence, endings of relationships, endings of lives. And our story tradition helps us look at those endings as also beginnings- all of them. In faith, we can find a way to embrace them, as we turn them over in our mind and heart and see the beginning within them.