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Hallo again to all.

We spent a good part of this week sorting through the belongings of a departed and very dear friend. This now too-familiar experience is always new, and always taxing, no matter how long it takes and what kinds of things are left behind by loved ones 'who have gone before us sealed with the seal of faith, and who sleep the sleep of peace'.

There are inevitably the abundance of household goods necessary for daily life: toiletries, linens, cleaning supplies, stationery, kitchenware, tools and foodstuffs. It is easy to find a new home for these items through foodbanks, charity-based secondhand shops, and repurposing through networks of friends.

It is much harder to make decisions about more personal items. What to do with the clothing collection—and it could only be called a clothing collection—of someone who dressed with inimitable elegance and style throughout a too-brief life? What to do with decades of family pictures and handwritten journals, boxes full of genealogical research material, postcards and letters from (to us) unknown correspondents, and an assemblage of books so rich and elaborate as to make even a modest public library blush? What to do with every sort of personal effect of someone whose each purchase, whether of an umbrella or a painting, was made after exhaustive research and with a combination of wisdom and whimsy?

Such difficulties, compounded by grief, can be paralysing for the mourners who carry out the ministry of sorting and dispersal. We labour over each necessary decision, imagining our friend and loved one's earth- and time-bound feelings about the carefully-chosen fabric of her beautiful world. We can feel disconsolate and overwhelmed by all there is to do.

There is another way for Christians. One of the very many great gifts of Whitsunday is God's own antidote to the worst parts of this kind of work. Christ promises before the feast: 'I will not leave you comfortless.' And then, just ten days after the Ascension, the Comforter comes—the Paraclete, our advocate and helper in every difficulty. With the thoughts of our hearts cleansed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can strive to perfectly love God and worthily magnify his holy name. We can also bring the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit—wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord—to bear in every last part of our lives.

Whether we are grieving friends making hard decisions together, a toddler gearing up courage for her first haircut, recent graduates preparing for a new season in life, or ordinands just sent out to begin parish ministry, we can trust in the promise of the Holy Spirit's presence, help, comfort, and guidance. It remains for us only to ask:

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And in our hearts take up thy rest;
Come with thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which thou hast made.*

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

8 June 2014

* Veni Creator Spiritus.


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