| Jo Seier-Doofe's local newspaper, The Quad City Times of Davenport, Iowa, requested a one-time column on faith after reading of the experiences in From Eulogy To Joy.
|Quad-City Times Davenport, Iowa Saturday, August 4, 2001
Faith is her spiritual concrete
Profiles In Faith
The Quad-City Times introduces a new column today, Profiles in Faith, that will appear periodically by various authors on Saturday's religion page.
Faith is belief, confidence, trust. It is intangible, but it is also spiritual concrete, the basis upon which we build our lives. It is our strength when life throws us terrible curves. It holds up when we are incapable of praying. There have been hard times in my physical, emotional and spiritual life. Faith has brought me through even when I took it for granted. It is the bedrock of my life. We understand that "God does not send us more than we can handle," but He certainly pushes us to the edge.
In May, 1974, our 13-year-old son, Jay, fell into Duck Creek during flood time. Hundreds of people searched for his body over the following 10 days.
Quad-Citians opened their arms and hearts, they comforted and consoled. During this time I could not pray. I felt as though God had swooped down and scooped our son up out of water and held him safe, but left his family too emotionally bereft to do more than cry.
And yet, I had no doubt Jay had felt only moments of terror before he was safe in God's arms.
Habits of religious practice carried me through the heavy period of pain and adjustment. If habit is a large part of faith, then faith did not go away, but it did become invisible.
Nine years later our son Jack, age 19, was attending a party on a hot night in July 1983. The party moved from house to riverfront, and sometime in the early hours of the morning Jack was pushed from his perch on the wall into the Mississippi River.
We, his parents, were summoned to the hospital after his inert body was recovered.
When I was allowed into the room where medical personnel were attempting to resuscitate him, my first reaction was anger: The anger was so deep it effectively flash froze all other emotions. I was angry at Jack for being careless, for being dead. I was angry because he had been drinking. I was angry at myself and my husband because we drank. I was angry at just about everyone. Anger may have given me the energy to get through those first horrendous days.
| At the wake, the night before Jack's funeral, numerous friends and family came and went. We talked. We cried.
And then a young man came in, alone. He did not join any of the other young people, but sat on a chair and allowed tears to stream down his face. He did not wipe the tears away, seemed not even to be aware of them.
I watched him for a while, then came over and sat beside him. He turned and said, "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Seier."
"Thank you" I replied, adding, "I keep thinking no matter how bad I feel there is someone out there who feels even worse. That is the person who pushed Jack off the wall. It wasn't done maliciously or with any intent to hurt him, but it was such a stupid, thoughtless thing to do."
The young man groaned.
In an attempt to comfort him, I told him that I believe love does not die when someone we love dies and that we are never totally disconnected from them. I put an arm around his shoulder and asked if that might help. He nodded, thanked me and left.
I believe this nameless young person was the one who pushed Jack off the river wall. I also believe God worked a miracle of forgiveness in those few moments. The miracle didn't make my grief any less, but it did encourage acceptance, a lessening of anger, and a greater sense of closure. This gift of forgiveness was the beginning of the healing process for me. I trust it also began a healing process for the young man.
Editor's note: Jo Seier-Doofe of Davenport also has written a piece about anger as part of the grieving process in an anthology titled "From Eulogy to Joy." published in 2001 by Xlibris. She and the late Lester Seier were the parents of 10 children.
If you have a story of faith to share with our readers, please submit it to Barb Arland-Fye in one of the following ways: email: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax Barb Arland-Fye, (563) 383-2370 or Barb Arland-Fye, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, Iowa, 52801. Columns should be no longer than 550 words.
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