As we the community have gathered here
I would like to pose a question:
How do you sum up a life in a few words?
How do you measure the weight of a soul in a matter of moments?
You do not. You cannot.
But you can pray for rest, and you can pray for light.
And you can remember, you can always remember.
“Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
In memoria æterna erit iustus,
Ab auditione mala non timebit.”
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord:
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
He shall be justified in everlasting memory,
And shall not fear evil reports.”
This is one of the tracks on the final David Crowder*Band album, the opening in some sense to one of the most moving songs on the album, especially as you listen to the words and hear the commentary spoken by David Crowder himself. He talks about leaving the next chapter of his and the other band members lives in the hands of God.
But when I first heard these words I was intrigued by it for a couple of reasons. One our community had just suffered the loss of a thirteen year old to cancer and there was a lot of grieving. The other reason is because of a loss which was much closer to me. Two years ago April 2nd, LCP Curtis Swenson was killed in action in Afghanistan by an IED.
The last words of the verse above “But you can pray for rest, and you can pray for light. And you can remember, you can always remember,” bring me comfort in a time of need. Hannah, Caden and I went to the memorial yesterday for Curtis, it was an absolutely beautiful day, the sun shinning and the wind whispping around. As I was standing there with tears in my eyes remembering the life of Curtis and being face to face with two great parents trying to piece their life back together, I said these words to myself, “Oh great God give us rest”. Not only for Curtis to find rest with our God, but for myself to find rest and his loved ones as well.
I am still stung by the power of death on this day. There is a pain I feel within my being, one that I don’t remember ever having before Curtis’ death. I think about his family. His mom and dad. His sister. And his wife. All of whom lost someone very special. A life too short. I do not pretend to feel their pain. But my own pain is ever present when memories of Curtis come up.
My prayer of rest will not come all at once, not for myself or for his family. It comes in the comforting words of friends and family, in the comforting words posted on Facebook, in the comforting words of a poem read at the memorial. In the comforting presence of a community of support. For me it came in the comforting words of a song.
Curtis’ life will never be summed up in a couple of words, he had far too much of an impact for that, in fact I feel as if my words are not adequate enough in this blog post. Curtis’ life will always be remembered. He was far too nice of a guy, for him to just fade away. Far too many people have been affected by his life. He will be remembered.
And in that remembrance there is light. Light of hope. Light of life. Light of things getting better. This is the light of which we pray for, the light which comes out of the darkness, again and again and again. In this season of hope, of Christ conquering death, may we continue to remember Curtis’ life and may we see God’s light through Christ shine a little brighter each day.
Katie, Emily, Kay and Dave this is my prayer for you today.
God, we don’t get to know everything. We don’t understand all the “whys” of this universe. But we believe you know what’s going on. We believe you’re doing something. Curtis’ death was a horrible event, God. But we know you were there in that moment. We know you are still there, and you are here with us now. We know Curtis is now in your arms. Hold him close, God. Let him rest. Give us rest too, that we may see your work in our lives today. Be with Kay, Dave, Emily, Katie and all those who were touched by Curtis. We all are left to carry on. It’s hard. We need your help. Amen.
Always Remember LCPL Curtis M. Swenson 4-2-10