On Eagle’s Wings

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
– Fr. Michael Joncas

DSCN0374These lyrics, part of a much-loved devotional song titled “On Eagle’s Wings,” written by Father Michael Joncas for the funeral service of a friend’s father, was also a favorite song of Kathy Wolcott, wife of Marti’s brother, Mark, and “Aunt Kathy” to our children. At Kathy’s insistence, we all stood up at the funeral service of Mark and Marti’s mother and led the congregation of mostly retired people in Naples, Florida, in the singing of this song. All in all it was a lively service. We made sure of it, unwilling as we were to have Mom’s memory turned into a dirge. As a result, these older people were surprisingly jovial after the service, and there were so many requests for us to “do” their funerals, that we later joked that we should go into business as Eagle’s Wings Funeral Services.

Eagles’ Wings Funeral Services has lost its strongest proponent in that Aunt Kathy died yesterday in her sleep, the result of a massive stroke. She leaves behind two excellent sons — one, a Navy Seal, and the other a successful businessman, husband and father of two grandchildren — and Marti’s brother, who ironically is still recovering from a stroke of his own. All attention for so long has been with Mark. No one ever thought we would lose Kathy, so full of life and love, with seemingly an endless supply of selfless energy.

This will be hard. Kathy was the strong one, quietly holding everyone and everything together. She’s the one you can’t shock. She’s the one with the emotional and spiritual strength to listen, take in your problems, and somehow hand them back to you somewhat lighter. She was always behind the scenes, smiling and enjoying everyone else’s joy. She would be tough on the kids, and then wink at them when she knew they were up to something. Aunt Kathy had their respect.

She’s the last one any of us expected to go.

We will all be floundering for a while, convinced that the wrong person was chosen to go first. Our prayers will be full of questions. The sons will take it the hardest. Dan is already on his way back to Florida from Afghanistan. We will have to figure out what to do.

This is when, deep down inside, you know faith is there — reasons are there — you just can’t touch them. This is when you need some assistance. I’ve dialed up Eagle’s Wings Funeral Services a couple times, but there’s no answer.DSCN0333_edited-1

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20 Responses to On Eagle’s Wings

  1. Hi John,

    My deepest sympathies on your loss. I shared these words from Charles Spurgeon in my own blog posting this morning. Perhaps they will help.

    Under your cross you have many special comforts. There are cordials which God gives to sick saints which he never puts to the lips of those who are in health. Dark caverns keep not back the miners, if they know that diamonds are to be found there: you need not fear suffering when you remember what riches it yields to your soul. There is no hearing the nightingale without night, and there are some promises which only sing to us in trouble. It is in the cellar of affliction that the good old wine of the kingdom is stored. You shall never see Christ’s face so well as when all others turn their backs upon you. When you have come into such confusion that human wisdom is at a nonplus, then shall you see God’s wisdom manifest and clear. Oh! the love-visits which Christ pays to his people when they are in the prison of their trouble! Then he lays bare his very heart to them, and comforts them as a mother does her child. They sleep daintily who have Jesus to make their beds. Suffering saints are generally the most flourishing saints, and well they may be, for they are Jesus’ special care. If you would find a man whose lips drop with pearls, look for one who has been in the deep waters. We seldom learn much except as it is beaten into us by the rod in Christ’s school-house under Madam Trouble. God’s vines owe more to the pruning knife than to any other tool in the garden; superfluous shoots are sad spoilers of the vines. But even while we carry it, the cross brings present comfort; it is a dear, dear cross, all hung with roses and dripping with sweet smelling myrrh.

    Charles Spurgeon
    3 April 1864

    Doesn’t the line “We seldom learn much except as it is beaten into us by the rod in Christ’s school-house under Madam Trouble” paint quite a picture?

    Thanks for your ministry.

    Bruce MacPherson
    Ottawa, Canada

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Often it’s “secondary” family members, aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc who we find impact us incredibly as we grow on in life. I’ll share my fav Bible verses with you:

    Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  3. rwb says:

    I’m weeping with you, John, Marti, and the rest. I know what it is to lose someone you love so suddenly, with so many questions. You are carried. You are held. Remember to breathe.

  4. Deb says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I too know well the unexpected/blink-of-an-eye life changing moment. But I also know that God is carrying you and will continue to do so throughout this process. This isn’t just “lip service” but knowing that in the depth of my being that God is there too. That is the only way I made it through the grieving process and came out the other side whole again. I don’t presume to have all the answers, but one thing I am sure of is that God is so faithful. We will hold your family in our prayers.

  5. Mark Seguin says:

    I’ll be keeping all of the Fisher family and loved ones in my thoughts and prayers…

  6. Carole in Midland says:

    To fall asleep in your own bed and wake up in Heaven… my friend whose mother passed this way called it “The Gift.” Seems like after we reach age 50 or so, our lives become a series of “goodbyes” as those we love go on before us, Marti, when someone tells you they are sorry for your loss, you can say about Aunt Kathy the same thing I said about my mom when she died – I didn’t lose her. I know exactly where she is, and Who she is hanging out with. The verses the Lord gave me when another dear one left this earth were Isaiah 57:1-2 “The righteous perish…to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace…”

    My heart aches with yours now, but oh, the JOY your Aunt Kathy is feeling to be Home at last…

  7. Priscilla says:

    To go to bed happy and wake up in heaven – what joy Aunt Kathy is feeling today. But I’m so sad for you, Marti and your family today.

  8. David Morgereth says:

    Hi John

    You and your family are in our family’s thoughts and prayers today


  9. Laur says:

    We are sorry for you loss and for everyone who knew and loved her. All of you are in our prayers.

  10. Joanne says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My empathy is deep having just lost the “same” person in our family – my mom – on Christmas Day. I think I’m discovering that when we lose someone we begin to try to walk more in their footsteps . . . to see where and how Jesus lived through them. Mom’s time was at hand – 93 – and though she wondered why God kept reviving her and allowing her to live – she actually led a few aides to the Lord in some of her less dignified moments of life!
    I know you will all miss her greatly. I have no words of wisdom – only a lot of love and prayers for you, her sons and husband, the family. Let the Eagles Wings rise again – She is not there. She is risen! Praise God!

  11. Lois Taylor says:

    So sorry for your loss, John, Marti, and family. You know that our Lord is in control, but it is difficult being left behind. Just know that prayers and thoughts are with you.

  12. Peter Leenheer says:

    The replies echo all my sentiments for you and Marti. The peculiar mix of emotions at a believer’s death is joy and sorrow and still that is a comfort.

  13. Bridget Clay says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss but what a beautiful memory to share with us. You may be floundering now but Aunt Kathy is rejoicing with the angels and her legacy lives on in all of you. I have learned that so deeply myself the last few months. Your family and loved ones are in my prayers and safe travels to the Navy Seal. Thanks for being that light and encouragement for all of us, now let us lift you up.

  14. Sorry to hear,, you and your family are in my prayers.

  15. Sally says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Care givers often concentrate on those they are caring for and ignore their own needs. May God comfort family and friends at this time and in the future.

  16. Susan Ingraham says:

    Marti and John – I am so sorry for your loss. You, and Kathy’s family, are being lifted to the Throne of Grace. His peace, may it reign and rain over your lives as you make decisions and carry on in the wake of this sadness.

  17. ineke de Graaf (Australia) says:

    I am sorry for the sudden loss of your dear Kathy. I will say a prayer for you all; for strength, courage and peace that only God can give at times such as these.

  18. Hans says:

    Hi John (and Marti),

    I’m very sorry for your family’s loss.

    Maybe this will help a little bit:

    There are no coincidences in the Kingdom of God, right? (Probably also not outside the Kingdom, come to think of it).

    I was amazed when I saw the title of today’s Catch, because the following verse has been on my mind for the last two days:

    “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” (Exodus 19:4, God telling Moses what to say to the Israelites).

    Of course for us, Christians, this applies to this life (our salvation) as well as the next (heaven).

    I take it that Kathy was a Christian – so then you know to Whom she has flown, right, with the Holy Spirit serving as the wind beneath her wings. (The Eagle, by the way, is a symbol for God, as you are probably aware).

    As far as you (and your family) are concerned – you probably don’t need to call the Eagles’ Wings Funeral Service, but the Eagles’ Wings Comfort and Renewal Service:

    “But those who wait on the LORD
    Shall renew their strength;
    They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    They shall run and not be weary,
    They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

    Blessings, Hans

  19. John & Marti, I’m so sorry for your loss of one so dear to you. You truly will be in my thoughts and prayers. God’s peace & comfort enfold you.

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