“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was the first day of school, and it was hard to know who was really more afraid, Mom or her child starting that first day of the rest of his life. But she said it, because, in her heart, she knew that, really, there was nothing to be afraid of; sort of. There would be lots to be afraid of if it wasn’t for one thing, Mom was going to be there. When the “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” entered her precious son’s life she was going to be there, come “hell or high water”. Mom: the present one.
“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was the first day of college. Who knew eighteen years could happen in a blink? “Got it, Mom. Love you. You can leave now.” She had taught him well. Too well, she was thinking at that moment. How could he be so assured? Didn’t he know that living on his own was going to meet even bigger lions who would want to devour him? Of course, perhaps the reason her little boy grown big could be so assured was that he did get it. He was not alone. Mom: the present one.
“Don’t be afraid,” Mom said. It was almost her last day on this old earth. This was way too soon, but here it was. And there sat her son, next to her, weeping at the thought of how Mom, the Present One, was not, very soon, going to be present. But, Mom, as always, knew better. She knew that she had prepared that boy, now a young man, well. Very well. She had toughened him with love and softened him with grace. So she told him, “Don’t be afraid.” She wasn’t afraid. She knew that she belonged, body and soul, in life and in this fast-approaching death to her God, who assured her through his Spirit that in Christ there is no fear. And she knew that her husband and children and grandchildren belonged to God too. So, she wasn’t afraid of the next life in the New Heaven and the New Earth. So of course she would say, even now, “Don’t be afraid.”
She was quoting, of course, the line made famous by another one who died too soon. His friends and family felt so lost. So, as they journeyed on that dusty road one Sunday, three days after he had truly died, he met up with them. And as they stared at him, jaws dropped low, eyes opened wide, he told them, “Don’t be afraid.” Sometimes, it takes a Mom to remind us to keep on walking and believing that the Present One is not gone. He is Risen, and so shall she be. Do not be afraid!
A Memorial in Witness to the Resurrection for Nancy J. Berry (1950-2015). Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Sister and Child of God, who is not afraid.