A Psalm for Gloria

I have a very close friend whose mother, Gloria, suffered from a chronic illness for many years. About a year before Gloria died, I woke up abruptly at 3 AM to discover a pool of poetic fragments swirling around in my head. I opened my laptop and started recording what I was hearing in a whirlwind of creativity that my fingers struggled to keep up with. It was one of those inspired moments that writers dream of yet seldom experience. There were many tears shed during the writing of this poem ... and many since ... for it braided my own near-death experience as a 20-something in with my deep love for a dear friend who has struggled with her faith in what lies beyond this life.

Later that morning, I delivered this poem to her. She found great comfort in it, as did her mom. If you are approaching death or love someone who is, I pray that these words touch your heart with the Divine Love of God which flows unobstructed between our "here" and our "hereafter".

The companion for this piece is Day 12 which was written in a similar flurry of inspiration twelve days after Gloria’s death.

I have been to the other side of life
To the side we often fear.
And came back to a very different view
Of life when God is near.

For death is not the end of life,
It is the start of something new.
When you close your eyes and cross the line
God's right there to help you through.

Oh the choirs! The singing! The joyful sounds!
Of the saints who come to greet you!
The heavenly hosts are cheering you on!
Welcome! Great Job! Come on through!

You rise through a hole to a blinding light,
But it's not a light that hurts.
For it is the Glory of the Lord that floods your soul
With the Grace and Love He asserts.

There is no darkness in heaven you see.
No shadow is there cast.
There is no need to hide, no shame.
All that has long since passed.

As you leave this world, you leave behind
Every thing except the light.
You leave behind your darknesses
Your sorrow,
your pain,
your fright.

Alas, in my case, that joy was short
A hand pressed lightly on me.
It pushed me back to life on Earth
And left me asking "Why me?"

For forty years I have wondered why.
I have prayed to God in vain.
It was not until this morning's light
That the answer finally came.

It was so that I could write this Psalm
And pass it on to you.
And let you know beyond a doubt
That what all God says is true:

The purpose of life is to love our Lord
And our neighbors all around.
And know the power of His redeeming Grace
And His Love which has no bound.

It means it is time to forgive the ones you love
And ask for forgiveness too.
And most of all forgive yourself
As God has forgiven you.

And when you get to where you're going
And spread your soul and fly
You'll dance upon the raindrops
And never wonder why.

You'll play the celestial harps and lyres
And praise the Lord with song.
For you have finally made it home
To the place where you belong.

And now as you rise to Him and say "Good Bye"
To those of us on Earth
Take it from one who's been there and back.
It's not a death. It's birth!