Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Reflection October 22, 2017
"Beloved Beth" by: Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
Beloved Beth, it was a year ago on October 19 (at 5:01 pm) that you went home to God. It was just you and me together as you breathed your final breath in our shared-home. Your final breath shattered something in my soul.
To say this past year has been hard would be a profound understatement. I miss you daily, dearly, deeply. I’m frankly surprised I’ve gotten through this year without falling into some dark abyss.
Your life was so hard in so many ways. Over this year, I’ve read your many prayer journals as well as your diaries (I never read them while we were together because I always respected your privacy). I wish your life had been easier and less traumatic. I wish your life had been filled with more accolades for your hard work with those on the margins. I wish your life had been filled with more joy and less sorrow, more laughter and less suffering.
Beloved Beth, the one thing I’m most proud of in my entire life is providing you with 9 ½ years of shelter from the storm. This accomplishment outweighs any and all kudos that have come my way.
Of course, our life together was not always perfect. There are always regrets. I wish I had taken you to Ireland - even though we traveled far and wide during our years together. I wish I had told you more clearly and more often what your presence in my life meant to me. I wish I helped you understand how beautiful you were - inside and out.
Beloved Beth, you helped me understand the ways of the heart. I recall the many times I’d rest my head on your beautiful chest and listen to your lovely heart. Your heart was so open and so strong. I miss listening to your heart.
This past Sunday I preached how important the heart is in the life of everyone. I mentioned how the mind is, by nature, atheistic. The life of faith, the presence of God, cannot be grasped by the mind. Knowledge from the heart is needed to encounter the sacred and most everything of real importance in our world.
Beloved Beth, you revealed to me, unveiled for me, the way and wisdom of the heart. The heart, as Blaise Pascal so well-stated, has reasons that reason cannot know. Our life together has irrevocably placed me on the perilous path of the heart.
Nothing matters as much to me now as the life of the laid-bare heart. You helped me achieve a vulnerability that had escaped me before our life together. To fall in love is our most sacred human task but it requires a willingness to embrace an intimate and ultimate vulnerability. You taught me this vital truth.
Beloved Beth, you know well how I understood you as my co-pastor at our beloved church. I was so happy you got to serve as the director of counseling services at our church for a good number of years. You were so happy and fulfilled in that role, in that ministry.
You (and I) were given the 2017 James B. Ashbrook Award for pastoral care and pastoral theology. You so deserved this award. I hope you heard about it where you now reside - in the eternal embrace of the divine heart. I can’t imagine you are aware of all that happens here on earth. To see all the tragedies afflicting creation would not seem like heavenly bliss to me. But then, who am I, to say what happens in eternity? You have a much better grasp than I!
Our life together was shorter than either of us wished. There is deep sadness in that shortness but there is also a profound joy in our shared life. We were lovers in every sense of what that most-sacred word means. I miss our life together. I miss our love. I miss us.
The torrent of tears that have washed over me during this past year seem never-ending. But tears are not always troublesome. They help heal broken hearts. I pray that my tears - over the loss of you - may never cease until I also come to where you are. And, as you recall, my tears helped bring us together.
The spouse of one of your cousins told you, before we met, that the one you would marry would be the man who cried at movies. And so it was - and so it is.
Beloved Beth, I am adrift without you. The terrain I stumble over seems bleak and barren. Yet I carry on - doing the things that we need to do. I’m taking care of Molly, Donnie, and Tessa as I promised. They give me some comfort even in the midst of litter boxes and hairballs! I will take the best care I can of them until they likewise go to God.
I know not how much time I have here before I go to our true home in the heart of God. It’s my deepest hope that you’ll be waiting to welcome me into Eternity. Of course, you told me more than once, that I’ll need to woo you again when I come to heaven. I look forward to this delightful challenge of the heart!
At our wedding reception, we danced our first dance to Joshua Kadison’s “Beautiful in my Eyes.” Let me end this letter to you with a few of the lyrics from that special song: “We’ll have our fill of tears, our share of sighs. My only prayer is that you realize, you’ll always be beautiful in my eyes … When the time comes to embrace for one last while, we can laugh about how time really flies. We won’t say goodbye ‘cause true love never dies. You’ll always be beautiful in my eyes.” Thank you, Beloved Beth, for being my love and my wife!