Written by Kaji Douša
"My eyes have seen your salvation." - Luke 2:30
He looked for excuses to buy me flowers.
As my family finished crossing the border into Mexico on foot, we stepped into the bright, hot sunshine to walk to his new apartment in Tijuana. On the curb just in front of the border crossing, he stood with an enormous grin and a gigantic bouquet.
It was his delight to surprise people with little bits of joy. He gave and he loved completely. He was loved, too, though he had yet to find the life partner he sought.
I believe that pursuit has to do with why he was murdered. He lived in a place where it was not reliably safe for men to love men.
As a pastor, at the end of a long, well-lived life, I will often quote Jesus: well done, good and faithful servant. Even in grief, there is some joy to searching memories of the proof of such a claim. A life well-lived leaves evidence in memory shards scattered throughout a lifetime.
When a young person dies, part of the tragedy is that we know there should have been more shards. Despite his short years, I have no trouble saying Jesus' words. He was a good man, the very best kind, actually. Well done.
I believe that death is always paired with resurrection. I also believe that at the point of death, we have a vision. We see everything we need to know about God and life and beauty and every broken bit of us is made right. The church calls this the beatific vision.
Simeon's story gives us a glimpse into what this vision might be like. When he saw Jesus, he had the vision he had been anticipating for a lifetime, and nothing more mattered.
There is not a lot that brings comfort in the face of tragic death. Here is mine: just after his eyes blinked for the last time, I believe that he had a Simeon moment and he saw the Lord, saw his salvation with his very own eyes. If I had another chance to care for him I would look into his eyes and say: well done. But I cannot, nor do I need to. Jesus knows his own words perfectly well and can take it from here.
Thank you God, for the love that carries us through every end into a new beginning.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.