Grief and Hope

Now we don’t want you, brothers and sisters, to be in any doubt about those who “Fall asleep” in death, or to grieve over them like those who have no hope. After all, if woe believe that Jesus died and rose again from death, then we can believe that God will just as surely bring with Jesus all who are “asleep” in him. (1 Thess 4).

Last Sunday morning Ingrid Papanek died. I have been looking at her work across the room from me for years now, after asking her if I could have it years ago. She smiled and blushed and said “well, sure!”. Can’t you just see her now?

I just love her painting. I love the brilliant colors of blue, the holes plated with gold to fill the whole scene with stars. I love the faceless wonder of Mary, and the strong, steady, calm repose of Joseph. And I love that gracious golden starlight filling the whole scene like a lit up a “julgran” (christmas tree). One Lucia morning while waiting for the program to begin Ingrid told me about the Julgran of her childhood, that was lit up with real candles. I love the over-sized halo the baby Jesus has, reflecting how much Ingrid loved Jesus. Hers was a simple and deep faith.

While meeting with Ingrid’s family this week, I came across a letter she wrote now eleven years ago when her thirteen year old grand-daughter Anika died. It’s a thank you to the Church for love and prayers, and also a seemingly strange invitation: “If you would like some sunflower seeds let the office know, or contact me.” It is the beautiful backstory that brings the invitation to life:

“Last May Anika’s grandmother from Vermont came to visit Anika in New York, and they planted sunflower seeds. Anika placed her planters on the window sill near her bed. Each day she watered them, and was delighted when the plants started to sprout. When they became too big her grandmother brought them to Vermont and placed them where Anika used to play. On the morning of Anika’s memorial service in New York last July, they put the sturdiest of the bunch on the stage for the service. None of them had yet opened. Several hours later when we all came to the service, a beautiful splash of yellow on Anika’s sunflower greeted us. A single beautiful flower had opened, just in time! The seeds were saved, and we would like to share them with you.”

Anika is buried in our memorial garden, and on July 17, 2 p.m. at service end we will process there to lay Ingrid to rest next to her. It is a symbolic reminder of what we believe to be a hopeful reality, that Anika and Ingrid, having died, are alive together with Jesus in God’s bright shining glory. This is why we grieve, oh, how we grieve! But not as those who have no hope.

Thanks be to our God! And comfort to Ronald, Lee, Ron and family.

Peace to Ingrid and Anika’s memory. May they Rest In Peace and rise in glory!

One thought on “Grief and Hope

  1. Thank you for writing this beautiful and touching story about Ingrid and Anika and for sharing Ingrid’s lovely painting. I have been thinking about Ingrid very much lately. I always called her Aunt Ingrid because she is somehow related to me through her marriage to Ronald. I have not been in contact with her for several years but very much wanted to be. I used to receive letters from her. I was just thinking last week that I need to send her a letter and photograph of my children but sadly I learned yesterday that I am too late. She was an elegant woman with a beautiful and lively spirit that lived in the image of God. Now she is with God.

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