It's been quite a week in my world. Advent got off to a tumultuous start as I received a phone call early Sunday morning that brought the worst of news. One of the youth I had worked closely with on the regional youth leadership team had passed away. Jenny was a 19 year old sophomore at Georgetown. She was small in stature, but an absolute power-house of a person with an infectious smile. She lived with a life-threatening illness called pulmonary hypertension that was diagnosed during her senior year of high school.
What I remember about Jenny is that she was full of life- even when she was weak from not being able to breathe. She was strong-willed and strong-minded and sometimes she argued against whatever decision was being made- just so we would think through our decision more thoroughly. She would have made a great lawyer- or a minister, she was equally interested in Political Science and Religion.
When my husband David was the adult sponsor in a small group of teenagers Jenny was leading, he was so impressed with her. After the retreat he said, "Jenny is really cool- she kind of restored my faith in teenagers." She had the ability to impress, she was smart, self-assured and full of love for God and others.
It was an honor for me to get to say a few words at her funeral this week as well as read scripture. There were so many there to help celebrate her life. There was an outstanding homily by my good friend Russ Boyd that was a tribute to Jenny's life and the power of a God who hurts with us when we hurt. The music of the ceremony helped set the celebratory tone, we listened to Andra Moran live, Gabe Dixon on CD and finally from the soundtrack from RENT. "How do you measure a life?" the song asks. The answer is obvious- "you measure in love." And if we measure Jenny's life- we can see it was rich in love. I've been reminding myself all week to measure in love.
Another treat that came with the day of Jenny's funeral was getting to spend a little time with some amazing women in Nashville. We met to go together to the funeral and had lunch at a great little Greek place. Being with Rebecca, Dee and Lesleigh- laughing and sharing the realitites of our lives felt good. Dee said, "Did you feel the power when we are together? It was like a meeting of the power women!" It was some incredible company! We posed for a photo together outside the restaurant- I must say- we looked radiant! The power of the friendships of women in my life helps me measure my life in love.
So how can we deal a death too soon, too unfair for words in the midst of our Advent journey? We have already experienced the power of hope, and this week we will talk about peace. How do we hold fast to these things in a world where they can seem all too distant? We have to pay attention, we have to measure our lives in love; the love we give and the love we recieve in abundance. And we must continue to wait- actively wait for God to break-in to our world once again; for Emmnuel to come and be with; for God to pitch a tent and stay awhile with us. So be awake this Advent- be alert- and measure your life in love.