Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Spirituality of Grief

I recently found an obituary written by my 4th Great Grandfather, Rev. Levi Garrison. I am touched by the spirituality deeply embedded in the grief of a father who lost his son. It also sheds light on early American Methodist spirituality. It is from the archives of Wofford College in SC and was published in the Southern Christian Advocate on Nov. 27, 1840. I hope it blesses you.

Dear brother, I have often in the pulpit, as well as out of it, expressed my thanks to God for giving me twelve children, nine of whom were in the church, and all of them living and helping each other on in the Lord's work. But this matter of religious exultation is now changed with me in one respect. On Monday last, the 2d inst. the mighty destroyer, with full commission, passed by, and sternly demanded my eldest son, OSBORN, who resigned up his life with the greatest assurance, bidding us all farewell with his soul full of faith and love, shouting the praises of God as long as he could be heard to articulate a word. And when his speech failed, and I told him in the midst of a large company of spectators, if his soul was happy to press my hand, and held it to him, he immediately grasped it with both of his hands, and held it up. The persons present pressed toward to see, and he held it until all had seen, and immediately the power of God rested on the assembly; some fell to the floor, and others shouted aloud the praises of God. Oh, it was such a time of rejoicing to me; I do feel so thankful to my Maker, that even whilst I am now writing, my soul longs to depart and be with Jesus, and my dear son.

For the information of his numerous friends and connections in different parts of the country, I will only add OSBORN B. GARRISON was born in the State of Georgia, Oct. 23, 1812, and brought up in Anderson District, S.C. He embraced religion at a camp meeting held at Sandy Springs, Sept. 21, 1827, and joined the Methodist E. Church at the same meeting. He was one amongst the most pious and uniform young men in the department; faithful to his duties, and temperate and good in all his walk and conversation. He died as he lived, beloved by all who knew him. He was bitten by a spider, about two years ago, on the inside of the knee, and suffered great pain for some days after. He afterwards took cold before the poison was fully extracted, and it fell upon his whole system, bringing on a lingering disease which wore him down to a skeleton, and finally closed the mortal scene on the second day of this month. He was followed by a large company of people the next day to his burying, where he was interred amidst many tears and lamentations. Rest there, my beloved son, until the trumpet of God shall awake thee again from thy sweet repose, to come forth in the resurrection of the just, who, like thyself, "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."

Levi Garrison
Anderson Dist., S.C., Nov. 5, 1840 Will the South-Western Christian Advocate please to copy.