Aunt Shana today. It got me thinking about death, but also about our souls, spirit, and even our beauty.
Aunt Shana was a beautiful woman, God's closest thing to perfect. She was in love with family, friends, God, even strangers. Everyone she met was touched by her, and even those who had only heard about her cancer story but had never met her said they were inspired to live better, brighter lives because of her life. Yesterday, her husband said that when they were dating and he was wondering whether or not he should get serious about their relationship, he concluded that every time Shana walked into a room, it was as if she brought the sunshine with her. She really did light up the room -- and everyone's hearts.
Back to her beauty. My aunt was "famous" for her good looks. She was a striking blonde who never had a bad hair day. She had bright, intelligent eyes and a slim figure. No 50-year-old woman could come close to looking as gorgeous as she did. She had always been full of life and adventure and hospitality.
Today when I looked in her casket, it was almost like the person lying in the box was only a shadow of my aunt. Her closed eyes were dusted blue, her lips a pink coral, her hair impeccable as usual. In her hand was a crucifix and what I think were rosary beads. Yet it didn't seem like she was all there. She was cold, too -- stone cold and stiff. A thought overwhelmed me -- this wasn't my aunt anymore. She wasn't here.
A beautiful funeral poem contains a verse that reminds me of what I thought earlier today. "Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there; I do not sleep."
Our outward beauty doesn't last. Aunt Shana's age didn't make her any less beautiful, but her death made her empty body lifeless as she lay in the coffin. Makeup can enhance or hide things, but it can't hide the fact that it's just makeup. Beauty without life is nothing. Life fuels beauty.
Our lives make us beautiful. Our experiences, the way we react, the people who change us, the love we share, the peace of God...that is what makes us beautiful. Our personality, character, life, joy...that's how beauty is really defined. Aunt Shana was beautiful and full of life, but today she wasn't the same. Because it wasn't her in that coffin.
We are made in God's image. He breathed life into us. When we begin our second life in Heaven and our souls leave our earthly bodies, our earthly bodies are empty. Lifeless. Dead.
This is perhaps the biggest revelation I have come to with beauty. My aunt was beautiful in her life because of the beautiful woman God made her to be. When that woman left us and went to wait for us with God, her old, broken body is just a shadow of her old self, a shadow of her life. Imagine how she looks now! She was beautiful on earth, and now, with the light of Jesus on her face, how will she look when I see her in heaven someday?
And how will you look when we get to meet each other in Heaven, both of us shining and filled with the joy and love of Christ?
Your beauty isn't measured by just your outward appearance. It's your life that really shines through.