Like the Psalmists before us who screamed, “Why have you forsaken me? Can’t You hear my cries? How long are you going to hide from me?” we are crying out as well. “How can you take a person who has so much yet to offer the world? She wasn’t done yet! What were You thinking?” are some of our questions.
Some folks believe that God is in control of our world and everything happens for a reason. We may not know this reason yet but it will be clear to us later. While I understand this thinking and how it allows us to make sense out of the tragedies of our world, I do not hold this belief.
Why do some folks get cancer, diabetes or heart disease? Why do some folks have to use a wheelchair or a hearing aid? Why did I sustain a traumatic brain injury? There are no answers to these questions and dwelling upon them only makes us feel worse. God has power in our lives but not to make bad things happen so we can learn from them. God takes what has happened and helps us use our experiences to bring the Spirit of Life and Hope to our world.
I am sad that Aimee has died. Her death came way too early and she still had much to do. As is often the case, her death has brought back memories of other deaths and losses in my life. I’ve had to check out of my daily activities for a little while to deal with these losses and it hurts. After much time spent writing and singing – which always seems to help me process my emotions – I’ve come to an understanding.
The picture above is an imprint of Aimee’s feet that is on the wall in the youth room at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. Every year, the young people dip their feet in paint and then leave their footprints on the wall. I’ve been in the youth room often and every time I’m there, I wonder how they manage to do this. Do they hold one another up long ways so the person may stamp the wall with their feet? Do they sit on a ladder and swing their feet to make a print on the wall? I don’t know.
Seeing her footprint reminded me how much walking Aimee did in her life. She walked in the Sanctuary at Grace Covenant when she led worship. She walked at youth events at Montreat Conference Center and in other places across the country. She walked at Haywood Street Methodist as she led those who don’t have homes in art projects and prayers. She walked all over Asheville leading groups for Asheville Youth Missions.
In worship on the Sunday before Aimee’s death, the choir at Grace Covenant sang an anthem by Brian Tate based on lyrics from traditional spirituals called Hold Me, Rock Me.
Hold me, rock me, calm and easy
Hold me, rock me, deep and wide,
Hold me, rock me, in your arms,
Oh I got a home on the other side. (refrain)
Someday, gonna cross that river, gonna set out on my own,
Don’t know where my journey leads, but I’ll keep on walking’ till I get me home. (refrain)
My life is a runnin’ river, flowin’ from the mountains to the distant sea.
I’ve know many hills and valleys, but when I reach that ocean, I’ll be free. (refrain)
Aimee spent her whole life walking on the peace and justice road. She walked with us on our journey toward wholeness. She encouraged us on our paths as we walked along which helped many of us keep walking. Now she has walked home.
Even though she is no longer here, we can still walk on. We can honor her by continuing to carry out her vision of peace, justice and wholeness to the world. She knew many hills and valleys but she has reached that ocean now and she is free.