Lynne Shaub, 1928 – 2017

February 4, 2017

Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 |

For years and years – throughout her adult life – Lynne would travel to Seattle at Christmastime to hear Handel’s Messiah performed. It was a tradition. It was a joy. And it was, I believe, an annual reminder for her soul of the deep hope she held in the Messiah – who he was – for both her and for this world she loved.

This past Christmas, she’d purchased her ticket for the Messiah, but for the first time, she couldn’t make the journey to Seattle. She was reaching the end of her life and her body was simply too weary. It would need to be sung this year without Lynn Collins Shaub in the audience to hear and give grateful witness to its eternal message.

And so I am grateful for the gift Glenn and Chris just gave us – a fragment of Handel’s Messiah sung in her honor, not only in memory of her, but in profound declaration of our deepest hope for her. For although our eyes only see now a simple urn – deceptively small to hold the ashes of one who still lives so large in our hearts, we believe the message Glenn sang – that the trumpet shall sound and Lynne shall be raised incorruptible.

What form shall that take? What will the “many dwelling-places” in God’s house be? We hardly dare speak the particulars of how God’s future redeeming shall look. But our souls know for what they long: for wholeness, for unity with loved ones and all creation, for a peace that extends to the furthest depths of all existence, for that place and time where death has been swallowed up by victory. This is the deep memory of our souls and the craving for what shall be.

But I would be doing a disservice to Lynne’s life and memory were I to suggest that the nature of her faith was only a hope in the hereafter. For, indeed, true faith has always insisted that a future reality is made most convincing by how it informs the present. I would say that for Lynne, resurrection was certainly something yet to be; but resurrection was already proving itself in the way she lived.

Lynne lived a resurrection life.

She was orphaned at a young age. Her father died when she was very young, followed just a few years later by her mother. Lynne lost what most of us take for granted – the security of parents and home. And even though she was raised by loving grandparents she learned early on of the intrusive power of death. As the years went by she encountered numerous bereavements: not only two husbands, but also two sons. But from the beginning – rather than being undone by this – it grew in her a determination to provide for her family the utter stability she had lost. Surely this is the resurrection life: of claiming life in the face of death and providing life for others. As a mother and grandmother she was – in the words of her granddaughter Molly – “a rock.” Through all the losses and sorrows that accompany us in this life, she would remain the matriarch of the family, who knew when to smile and laugh, and when to speak the truth that perhaps you didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear.

It seems that Lynne was always able to look the hardships of life in the eye – doing what needed to be done – but still choose to saturate life with the truer presence of goodness. The ironing needed to be done every Saturday. But that couldn’t stop her from listening to the Metropolitan Opera while she did it. Music could permeate every dull routine, and enliven those magical summer gatherings at the beach house, where friends would gather. Bob would play the piano, Lynne the flute, and everyone else – whatever instrument they had. Her kids might have grumbled at having to learn piano and a second instrument, but she would make sure they learned that – where there is music – the soul takes flight.

It seems this lesson passed on to the next generation. Will remembers the dread of piano lessons, but also the comfort and security of seeing his grandmother’s car in the parking lot after school. She might have been hauling him off to the dreaded lesson, but it was she who was taking him, she who loved him, she who had carved a place in her heart where he would always belong. Life may be filled with difficulties, but – so far as it was in her ability – Lynne would insist that there be love and there be music.

This pattern was also true when it came to work. Chores were inevitable. The kids knew that each Saturday – and every day in the summer – they’d be confronted with their chore list. Each day Lynne would take up pen and paper and scratch out what misery was their fate. And yet, the same hand would take up pen and paper … and scissors and doilies … every February to hand-craft her famous Valentines. And as grandkids were welcomed into the family, the Valentines increased, every year – these silly, but precious documents of her love and delight. More than one person told me that – as they face the future – they dread the empty mailbox at Valentine’s. For, insomuch as she was able, Lynne would live the resurrection life of Valentines amidst the chore list.

And then there were books. Lynne loved to read – to the kids, to the grandkids, to herself. And, of course, the joy of books is their power to tell another story in the face of whatever story you are living at the moment. It’s not to escape or deny your life and its realities. But it is a choice to expand your life, to see another perspective, to enlarge your understanding and your beliefs. This, too, is a form of the resurrection life. The Kingdom of God is proclaimed in scripture. Certainly. But for many of us, it is Ferdinand the Bull and To Kill a Mockingbird and Aesop’s Fables and countless other stories that give the Kingdom of God life and spirit, and draw us forward in hope of what this life is all about.

And so Lynne lived with hope and faith. She lived with love and determination. She lived with a steadiness of purpose and with music in her soul.

She lived a lifetime of resurrection – which has now found its final destination in the arms of God who first gave her life, and gave her life again and again. Amen.

 

 

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