In Revelations, it is written that God is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” I assumed that meant that God was also in the things in between. Having graduated from a university with an extensive Greek system, I am aware that there are more than two letters in the Greek alphabet. A recent trip I took to Mwanza has given me a new vision of Alpha and Omega.
I went to Mwanza for a funeral, while there, a baby was born. The funeral should have happened the day I arrived in Mwanza, an ending at the beginning of my trip. However, it did not happen till the night before I left. In fact, my trip was longer because I was waiting for the service.
Upon arrival, instead of being immersed in the stressful and heartbreaking preparations of a grieving family preparing their final goodbyes, I was enlisted to help with the stressful and heartbreaking preparations of a swiftly coming baby. Except the baby took its time, took too long. It is not always clear who knows most about giving birth. Is it the doctor? Is it the Mama to be? Is it the plethora of murmuring Mamas and Bibis that crowd and worry around the expectant mother?
Well the baby came finally, an end to waiting, a beginning of discovery and growth. But babies are so delicate, they are indeed life and lively, but death lingers for a while in the doorway, ready to slip in at the darkest part of the night. Baby is fine, and with each small intake of breath in this new world she is stronger. Would Mama be okay though? How does such a blessed beginning of a life change by the possibility of a different life ending? Mama’s life? How does it feel when the doctor, who should be the secure passage of new life into this world, also bears the dark shadow of death?
So we held our breath, we gathered experience and wisdom, we talked, we prayed. We prayed for the new life, we prayed to keep the life that lay drained and exhausted, fragile as her small child. I came to Mwanza for one funeral; I did not intend to go to two.
Mama and baby are both well and healthy, but I shouldn’t say that death did not touch the family, for death is in fear, and there was much fear. The funeral was sad, it was an end, and people carried on as people must. When the sound went out, the choir kept singing, food came from somewhere, an alley between houses became a sanctuary. There is worry and stress about the future, but the fear is past. I have yet to hear of a person who’s fear is vested in something already done, The fear comes with anticipation, with waiting. There are hard times for this mourning family, but the sting of death, like a mosquito bite, is faded. Where, O Death, is now thy sting?
I came to Mwanza for a funeral, while there, a baby was born. Each thread of life has a beginning and end. It is the weaving together, the patterns, the designs that lead us each from our beginning to our end. Karibu. Welcome.
In our end is our beginning,
in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing,
in our life, eternity,
in our death, a resurrection,
at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season,
something God alone can see.
(Hymn of Promise, v. 3)