Four weeks ago, at 2:50 in the afternoon, my beloved sister, Allyn, drew her last earthly breath. Many of you have loved me and my family with incredible depth, passion, empathy. Some of you went well out of your way to give physical presence at her memorial service. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pass on here some of what I am hearing from her life and from your love during her passing. I hope some of what I am beginning to learn from this time, from your love, and from her life can be useful to us all. In times of loss but also in ordinary time.
I am listening to her. I love my sister and she loves me with a passion, a devotion, indeed an adoration that is unusual on this earth. I am well blessed to have a handful of those relationships which reflect Jesus' prayer that we might become one as God is One (John 17:21,22). I am listening to those relationships and in particular to her and our love for one another. I believe it honors her, far more than my tears, which have been copious, to allow her to teach me. I pray that I am learning her life message; I hope her word will speak to you as well.
She is teaching me to see through to the hearts of those we love. Allyn lived with some of the most Christlike love of anyone I have known. I learn from that love to listen to and receive, above all, faith of the heart, regardless of verbal beliefs. She had an uncanny gift of perceiving the beautiful hearts of those she loved, even when those hearts were obscured by anger, despair, the onslaught of evil; even then she saw beneath the surface to the beauty of the human heart.
She is teaching me to take time. Time to laugh, time to play, time to pray, time to be with our dear ones, time to love, time to listen, time to sit and stare at the wondrous beauty of life, time to live. I hear her asking us all to slow down, to take time with the gift of our lives, and to love long and well.
She is teaching me grace. She was relentless as well as passionate in her love. There were times when I was not good to her, ignored her, was even a mean big brother to her. But she was one of a handful of people who represented the hound of heaven quality of God's love. When Jesus spoke of the shepherd who seeks the life of the lost sheep, gently carries that life home again, He could not have found a finer example than Barbara Allyn Thomas Boucher. Her grace toward me when I was a lost sheep, her relentless love toward those parts of me that still may be lost...those teach me persevering grace. She teaches me that God is also relentless, loving us in all circumstances, like a tender parent yearning for the prodigal parts of our lives, our lost selves, to come home.
She is teaching me to treasure love, to live in gratitude for those places where the garden of love flourishes. I think of you as you read--whether in Tennessee or Alabama, California or Vermont, Georgia or Texas--I see you with new eyes. For she is teaching me the treasure of our love for one another. I am hearing, through her life, Jesus' word, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
I thank you...I thank God...I thank Allyn.