November 29, 2016

Showing Up Says It All by Bob Jones

Our mile long procession neared the cemetery. Riding shotgun in the lead car was my vantage point on a cold November afternoon. I had time to observe the trees lining the rural road, bereft of all greenery. Their lifeless branches matched the sombre mood of those traveling to a graveside to lay a nine-year old boy to rest. His twin brother proudly served as a pallbearer, helping to carry his sibling.

My mind was stripped bare by the sudden and tragic passing of a child I had never met but now could not forget. Family, friends and children huddled together against the chill under a grey sky. All ears were on this minister listening for words that could somehow make sense out of the senseless.

That’s when I am laid bare.
Words fail and the ones that do come sound hollow in my mind.
But speak I must.
With the words come tears.
We bow in prayer.
“Our Father in heaven…”
The casket is lowered into the earth.
Classmates of the boy have written loving words on strips of paper that they attach to ribbons tethering green balloons – his favorite color.
Together the students count down from 3 and set their balloons free.
We return to our vehicles, faces and hearts numbed by the cold.

Afterwards, a reception graciously hosted by the family, offers hot drinks, homemade sandwiches and baked goods – comfort food. “Thank you for your help. You were comforting.”

When words fail, showing up says it all. Laid bare of adjectives, nouns and verbs presence is a gift that speaks clearly.

To write with presence is the outcome of vulnerability.

Brene Brown observes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” (Daring Greatly)

There is more than a little comfort knowing that showing up gives opportunity for new leaves to sprout again.

Trees, barren of leaves in November are not without hope. Springtime will come. Sprouts will green up.  Life will come.

Writers, barren of words in the Novembers of our souls, are not without hope.

Write on.

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.


  1. This is a very moving post. I especially love the way you set the mid section apart in a poetic way.

    1. Thank you Tracy. The experience was deeply moving for me. I'm glad it resonated with you.

  2. Your openness and presence in writing leave you vulnerable to your readers. Because you lay yourself open, we empathize with you as, "All ears (are) on this minister listening for words that could somehow make sense out of the senseless." You showed up and God-given words were provided for you did bring the comfort to the grieving family. We all need to remember: God will provide when we show up and ask humbly for the words. Thanks, Pastor Bob.

    1. Spoken or written words have the power of life and they do come at just the right time from the giver of life. Thank you, Sharon.


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