Monday, August 04, 2014

Ham on Buns.

Sometimes I'm so oddly conscious of things that some folks might not give a first thought to... much less a second thought or a 15th thought.   Often, it bugs me that I'm this way.  Sometimes it's exactly how I grow...

My first unsettled experience with ham-on-buns came about 17 years ago.

Wait.   Ham-on-buns, you (did or did not) ask?
In the mid-western,  religious, Dutch influenced culture where I've grown up, life events most always involve food.   Okay,  food at life events aren't just ritual in our little corner,  but ham-on-buns may just be.   As my life has been filled with weddings, baptisms, graduations, and funerals-- often included like part of the family is the tray of lunch meat on buttered rolls (buns) and starchy side dishes.   
Ham-on-buns.  It's what's for dinner. 

Okay, back to the story. 

I was 20 and my paternal grandmother had passed away. Following the funeral service I watched my male cousins carry and lift the casket gently into the hearse.   

A touching moment. 

Witnessing my older, tall  and normally jovial cousins visibly and audibly emotional was uncomfortable.   
And sad.  
And good.   But it didn't last long.   
I sensed there was but a brief window for that kind of emotional let go, as moments later we were being quietly instructed to go to the basement for lunch. 

"What!??"  I thought.   "How am I supposed to feel this kind of sorrow one minute and indifferently slather mayo on a sandwich, the next?" 

No way.

I'd dare to assume at this point most normal people would be anxious to move things along.  Grief is not an enjoyable state,  eating lunch is.  But as I sat there staring at the foam plate and bakery bun,  I was somber and silent.    17 years ago, I found absolutely no value in the post funeral luncheon.  

And then we went home.

Early this spring my paternal grandfather (Gramps) entered his eternal home and many of the same scenes and faces from Grandma's funeral were present at his.  It was, in part a thankful celebration.  Of the life he lived and loved,  and of God's faithfulness to our ever growing family-- of Jesus' redemption in Grandpa's life. 
All of the great times,  the painful times,  the strong as well as strained relationships were brought to the first five rows of church pews that morning.  We lifted our voices in "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and it will go down as one of the most precious moments of my life.  

Following the service and recessional I felt the now familiar inner struggle welling up.  Slip away and grieve, or line up for ham?   I hugged my Dad, my husband, my brother.  I could have stayed there all day.   Then from the corner of my eye I saw my eldest daughter embrace my mom and begin to weep.  I know she loved Great-Gramps but I wasn't sure how her first funeral experience would effect her.  I talked with her quietly and realized something.   These sad feelings were difficult for her and as glad as I was that she could express them,  she might also learn from the upcoming hour.  

So, just like the well meaning white-haired ladies at Grandma's funeral 17 years prior, I asked my girl,

"How about we go and eat lunch, does that sound good?" 
It did.
We walked to the other side of the church and what began with- quiet tones of wiping tears and blowing noses beautifully transitioned into smiles,
and memories--
and breaking bread together.  

I had finally found value in the ritual. 

A large (but not the whole) part of the family poses for a photo 
following the --much to my delight-- Ham-on...croissants!

It was Sadness and Celebration.
Pain, still Praise.
Death, yet Victory!

Joy and sorrow are often intermingled into the ways and the days of this life.  

What is your only comfort
in life and in death? 

That I am not my own,
but belong—

body and soul,
in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
The Heidelberg Catechism above says "all things"

I desire to be a person who can see the big picture, have that keen awareness of all the gifts and all the grace surrounding life's circumstances.   
In the great moments and especially in the hard times be less bogged down with fickle feelings and more attuned to what The Lord wants me to see and learn

It's not easy. 
Just about anything can fog our senses.    
But by the same token,  just about anything can be used to teach us.  

Even a ham sandwich.

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