“ … Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’  Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”

Mark 46:51-52

“All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Family and friends congregated recently at St.Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Marietta, GA, for the burial of my friend Bella.  As we commended her soul to God, a sheep of God’s own fold, a lamb of God’s own flock, a sinner of God’s own redeeming, the priest said these words: “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song:  Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Undertones pulse ominously in the gospeler Mark’s story about Jesus’ healing of the blind man Bartimaeus.  We remember our mortality; we remember that sometimes our bodies don’t work as they were made to work.  Our vulnerability to sickness and death loom between the lines, between the actions, between the words of the story. And questions cry out as this exchange between Jesus and Bartimaeus takes place:  How was the man healed?  Will God heal me in the same, miraculous way?  If not, why not? But what Jesus said to the man holds for us, too: “Go; your faith has made you well.”

“Your faith has made you well.”

When we went outside to St. Catherine’s memorial garden to commit Bella’s ashes, we stood around the hole that waited for her in the ground. And as the priest poured Bella’s gray ashes into the hole, much of what had been Bella stayed in the hole, but a fine mist of gray swirled up into the air, above the hole, refused to be buried and kept under the ground.  She – her spirit – could not and would not be contained. And so, of course, it was – and is – with Jesus.  The tomb did not hold him. And it is our faith in the One who proclaimed “No” to death that makes us well.  It makes us whole, complete, all that we can be.  And more.

God did not heal Bella physically.  But, to me, Bella was whole.  I used to call her my Buddha:  full of wisdom, serenity, perspective.  I leaned on her counsel, treasured what she had to say.  Bella’s faith filled every part of her being, and I can imagine – I know that God is the judge, not I – but I can imagine God saying to her when she died:  “Come; your faith has made you well.” And God says that to you and to me and to all of us. Our faith makes us well, makes us whole, makes us complete.  Makes us all that we can be.  And more.

As we express our faith at home in our own room, in our own faith communities and elsewhere, we can trust that God will say to us:  “Go; your faith has made you well.” And at the end when our bodies don’t work anymore, we can trust that God will say to us:  “Come; your faith has made you well.” And as we embrace that truth, we can join hands with Bella and with each other and sing: “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Together we make our song:  “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

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14 thoughts on “Alleluia

  • November 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks, Katie for a beautiful reflection. I didn’t know Bella, but I can connect with your description of her because I have known other saints of God. The image about her ashes going into the ground but not containing her spirit is one I will remember. I hope many people read this. Thanks again.

  • November 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your lovely thoughts. We are indeed blessed to know saints of God in our own lives, aren’t we?

  • November 4, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Katie – What a lovely tribute to a wonderful woman. I am sorry we didn’t get to meet her.

    • November 4, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you so much. Yes, you would have been crazy about Bella and she about you!

  • November 4, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Who are some of the saints in your lives?

    • November 5, 2015 at 4:01 am

      Our dear Bella. I can even now hear her self deprecating giggle as she talked about something happening in her week.
      I know we all die but somehow it always takes me by surprise when it is someone close, someone who has been woven into the pattern of my life. I am comforted though by the mist that cannot be contained by death. See you later, Bella. Alleluia!

      • November 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

        Yes, our dear Bella. A perfect way to put it.

        And I am comforted by your “See you later.” Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful and meaningful thoughts.

  • November 5, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Your friend Bella sounds amazing. Someone that had true wisdom and was always at peace. I really like the scripture you mentioned where Jesus says ” Go; your faith has made you well.” I think about everyone in my life that is not well (including myself) and this gives me comfort. Comfort to know that no matter what the physical ailment our faith makes us complete and at peace.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • November 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, too. What you have to say brings me comfort, too.

      • November 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        Madeleine L’Engle makes a distinction between healing and cured (In The Irrational Season). Bella was not cured of her disease, but her spirit was healed (made whole). I amso sorry to have missed her service.

    • November 11, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks, Ron. I like the simplicity, as well of the scripture ….. I kept thinking, “”Go into the world in Christ, Come back to me” as something that eases my soul and brings a special kind of peace.

  • November 10, 2015 at 1:55 am

    How wonderful to hear from you! Yes, being healed and being cured can mean different things, can’t they? Thank you so very much for writing and sharing this wise response.

  • November 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks, Katie, for your loving thoughts and reflections of Bella and the true hope and assurance we have in Christ Jesus. I feel at peace after reading and know your message brings us joy and promise no matter what our health, background, fear or issues may be. Thanks be to God!

    My sympathies and prayers for you in this time of loss but also celebration of Bella!

  • November 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you so very much. I am grateful to you for your support and for your sharing of your thoughts. It all means a great deal.

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