Rev Janet Maykus

Interim Minister Janet Maykus

I always say that Halloween marks the beginning of “The End of the Year Holiday Slide”. As soon as Halloween is over, we step into preparations for Thanksgiving. As soon as Thanksgiving is finished, we enter the season of Advent, we begin the preparations for Christmas…decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, and sharing. It can be a beautiful time of year; a time marked by traditions, days spent with loved ones, and the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of children.

Then, there are those other times. All of us, at one point or another in our lives, will find this End of the Year Holiday Slide to be a difficult time; a time when what we do is different from everyone else; when we are absent from those we so much wish to be near; when no amount of holiday finery will take away the pain with which we live.

Our task as the community of the beloved is to hold one another in prayer and friendship. We should never hope to put a damper on joy, hope, and revelry, but during this time, let us also keep our eyes and hearts open to those who may experience this as a lonely or sad time.

There is not one easy prescription for ending the pains of others…or ourselves, but we can be kind and gentle, and we can ask what may help.

Saturday is All Souls Day. As we approach it, I’ve been thinking with great sorrow of my mother and father. I’ve also been thinking with great appreciation for Beatrix Potter, A. A. Milne, and Theodore and Audrey Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) who helped me learn to read. We cannot escape grief; it is a part of the human condition. The pain of it is also a testament of the love we’ve known.

This poem, by my friend The Reverend Lander Bethel, beautifully describes the unwelcomed visitor we all must encounter at one time or another. I hope it is what you need to read today, as it was the day I read it.

Oh Grief
You become a more frequent visitor as I age
A great grandma when I was just a boy
No, you need to stay here and play with the other kids
You shouldn’t let this visitor in when you’re so young
A little brother – so happy to have
For so short a time
Solemn words whispered as complications come
Gathering in the low lit room of a funeral parlor
Around a tiny casket
A still tinier body lying inside
What will I never know
What might have been
Dad weeping like never before at the graveside
Looking down at tiny fingers
A sweet round face reflecting his own
A high school friend I thought too pretty to ask out
Caught in a careless act
Too afraid to hear the sounds of your visit to attend
A grandmother entrusting herself to surgery
Resigned to the fate of an aggressive cancer
Sweet remembrances of fragrant cooking
And her protective arms
You visit more often now
Friends I’ve come to love
Whose health falters with age or illness
Dear and generous people
Who have chosen to accept me
A big gentle man
Who uttered the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
With such reverence
Its timbre is still resonant within me
A friend so young
Who believed lofty ideals were easy
Possessed such sharp intelligence his sister was mad with envy
So quick a wit he made jocks laugh with him
One whose faith was in plants and prairie
Whose generosity praised creation’s splendor
Who saw light in shades of gray or shadow
Another who gave her whole self to her life’s love
Who lifted hearts
As she gave life to songs and hymns
Who gave her soul to securing the future of favored institutions
An aged church member
Who taught me the breadth of faith
In giving thanks for doctors who offered praise in different form & language
A sweet and admiring dog
Who sought out my lap at every sitting
Was my company from home to grad school and back
A standoffish cat
Determined to warm herself on my chest
You have come to visit with each one
I make note of your intent
More to come
Your presence marks pain
That feels bigger than their absence
There is no real measure of your presence
Grief is grief
And not to be compared
And yet
Your presence may be so sacred a way
Of honoring their absence
I don’t wish to see you
I do not welcome your visit
Yet when you come
I must open the door
I will sit with you
And remember

Lander L. Bethel, D.Min., Pastor
First Presbyterian Church, Denison, TX
Grand Ave Presbyterian Church, Sherman, TX

Thank you to everyone who so warmly welcomed me to Central Christian Church. I am honored to be on Christ’s journey with you, and I hope I will be able to serve you well. I look forward to helping you uncover the next chapter in your long and beautiful life at 1100 Guadalupe.