Nearly 80 years ago, the block in which I live was part of more than a 400-acre tract of land with two large silos that held wheat and corn, dozens of black walnut trees, at least two caves, and a creek where the farmer’s children played. The family raised chickens, cows, and pigs, and a variety of vegetables. Over the years the land was sold to several developers, and little by little the corn and wheat fields were replaced with hundreds of houses. The black walnut tree in my back yard remains as a testament to this once productive farm. Today the land that was owned by one family is home to a diverse group of landowners.
Within this one short block, we have transplants from California, New Mexico, Florida, and New England. A family from Asia lives on the west end while the east end houses a family from West Africa. Both families came to the States seeking to be a part of the American dream. We also have a family of new American citizens from Central Europe and a second-generation European family that also has family ties to the Caribbean islands. A Russian family occupied the house next to me for a short time. Our block is a snapshot of America today.
Twenty years ago, Joan, whose parents owned this land, bought a small plot here to build a house. She was a recent widow, and her home was the first built on our block. While walking through the wooded area adjacent to her lot, she found the concrete steps of her childhood home, the old farmhouse. Today those steps in the corner of her lot provide the backdrop for lovely flowers and a remembrance of when she wandered through this acreage as a small child.
My neighborhood is very different from the one in which I grew up, but it’s very similar to what we can expect heaven to look like. When the apostle John got a glimpse heaven, he said, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb (Jesus)” (Revelation 7:9). They were loudly praising Christ who had shed His blood so they could be with Him in heaven forever. We will be together in heaven shouting the same praises to God, but we will not lose our distinctiveness.
My features look similar to the family from Central Europe, but they are very different from the African household or the people from Asia. But Luke, the writer of Acts and a doctor said, “From one man (Adam) He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26). This means that if the Asian woman or the African man has a medical emergency and if she/he has 0-Positive blood as I do, I could give my blood to help save her/his life. So, we are similar in many ways, yet we are different. I also believe that God has sovereignly brought all of us together on this one small block of land.
Now you may be wondering how this applies to us as widows. All widows do not look alike. We come in all colors, shapes, ages, and sizes, and we may not grieve alike. Because of the differences in our cultures, some may show their emotions more readily than others. Some widows grieve quietly behind closed doors, while others weep openly.
Kristin Meekhof, who wrote A Widow’s Guide to Healing, says, “There is no ordinary grief. Each situation … is unique.” She, however, goes on to say that each widow experiences loss, fear, and hopelessness. And, each widow has scars. So, we are different, but we are similar.
May each of us who has been on this journey for several years, embrace the grieving widow and be an advocate for healing, regardless of our race, culture or ethnicity.