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A few weeks ago, as thousands of people began dying across the country from the coronavirus, I noticed the despair as people posted that they could not even have a traditional funeral to grieve. Before I was doing what I do now, I was a pastor for many years. I offered to perform eulogies or prayers for any families who needed it. Today was my first for a great woman — Lucille Marie Scott:
Sisters and brothers.
My name is Shaun King and I am a friend of Jenesis. It is the honor of my life to be able to share in this sacred moment with you. It’s my hope, this December, on her birthday, that I can join you in another celebration of her life.
We are gathered here today, a small crowd in a funeral home, friends and family watching online, unable to console each other in the ways that we are used to. We are told that hugs and even handshakes are dangerous in the middle of this global pandemic but here we are, doing something that most of us thought we would not be doing for a very long time — we are celebrating the life and mourning our loss of Lucille Marie Scott.
And that loss is ours, not hers. Her life on Earth was full. It was full of deeply felt love and friendships. It was full of family and children. It was full of education and employment. It was full of singing and melodies. It was full of dancing and laughing. It was full of writing and wondering. Lucille’s life was full in New Orleans. Her life was full in New York. This loss, today, is ours.
And how sweet of a testament is it to be able to live 75 years among us, through Emmett Till, through the Montgomery Bus Boycott, through segregation and integration, through Jim Crow, through the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers. Through doo-wop and hip hop, through R&B and gospel, through our first Black President, how beautiful is it to live from December 8th of 1944 until April 9th of 2020, and for those who loved you the most to still feel like they were robbed?
On a phone call with Jennifer this past week, she told me “Shaun, when I tell people that my mother was 75-years-old, they think of her as an old woman, but we just said to each other recently that we thought we had 20-25 more years left together. She was healthy and young at heart.”
I laughed with Jennifer when she told me that her mother had just started herself a new Facebook page and was tinkering around with some dating apps. She was so full of life, that even on her very last day, as she admitted to her family that she was in pain, she was still on the phone telling stories, giving everybody the impression that she would make it through this.
Oh, that we could all live a life so full, so well, that after 75 years on this planet, those who loved us the most would be clamoring for just one more day, one more song, one more dance, one more call, one more text, one more hello, one more goodbye.
In this moment, as Sister Lucille has passed from the thing we call time to eternity, she is at peace. She is in Heaven, with God and angels, with our ancestors — where there is no virus, no shortage of supplies, no bread lines or hunger, no fear or despair, no social distancing and no sickness or pain. Lucille is in a place where there are no hospitals or respirators. She is in a place where there are no jails or prisons. No mass incarceration or police brutality.
Only joy. Only peace. Only wholeness. I want to be there one day. It sounds so much better than what we have here.
We are here, but Sister Lucille is in a place that is so beautiful that the hope of one day simply walking on its streets allowed our ancestors to survive unspeakable odds. Lucille is now on those streets and whatever heartache or pain she carried with her is now gone. It is finished. It is healed.
If you need to make some sense of Lucille’s passing, I encourage you to consider The Book of Isaiah 57:1-2. It says, “1 The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
Because we are in a pandemic, the family was given a small amount of time today, so I want to quickly close with something that I hope will encourage you.
While your mother, your sister, your friend is at peace, we are here, but God has not left us alone.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
And one of my favorite verses in the Bible comes from 1 Peter 5:7. It was written by an old fisherman and it gives us advice for what we should do during our lowest moments, it gives us guidance on how to handle our pain and despair.
That old fisherman said, “Cast your cares upon God, because God cares for you.” That word “cast” is what you do with a fishing rod, when you “cast” or throw the fishing line way out into the water. He’s telling us, don’t hold your pain with a clenched fist, don’t hold it with a closed hand, don’t tuck it away in your heart or mind. Many of you right now may feel guilty because you did not get to tell this sweet woman goodbye. Maybe you feel guilty because you had something unresolved with her that you didn’t get to work through. Maybe you planned on saying or doing something, but before you could do it, your time ran out.
1 Peter 5:7 says, don’t hold on to that. And it doesn’t just say “let it go,” because if you let it go, right there next to where you are, you’d be tempted to pick it up again and make that pain, that guilt, that worry a permanent part of who you are.
No, the fisherman says “cast” it, throw it as far out as you can, into the hands of God. God wants your pain. God wants your troubles because God cares for you. All of you. Every one of us and every part of every one of us. God wants it.
Today we do not say goodbye to Lucille, but we say “see you later.” One day, we will be joined together, singing, dancing, laughing.
God bless you.