Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the Voice


Yesterday a funeral was held for woman who finally lost a 17 month battle with leukemia, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters, the eldest of which is the same age as mine. Her name was Chris Oden and she lived in Nashville. I did not know of Chris or her family a week ago and now I cannot stop thinking about them or grieving for them.

A little backstory: just over a year ago I became involved with the Voice, a project conceived by Chris Seay of ecclesia, described as "a group of writers, poets, scholars, pastors, and storytellers [who] have committed to work together to bring the Scriptures to life in a way that celebrates both beauty and truth. The result is a retelling of the Scriptures: The Voice, not of words, but of meaning and experience." I've had the privelege of "retelling" some of the psalms over the past year. The project features a (beta) website which I visit on occasion, especially when I'm feeling particularly homesick. Friday night, between other chores I was doing on the computer, I decided to investigate Chris Seay's video blog. The first entry was entitled "The Voice experiences loss" and it had been posted the day before. Had I not moved 900 miles away last June, I would probably have been aware of (and praying for) Chris Oden and her husband jc. jc (unbeknownst to me) is the brand manager of the Voice and works closely with Chris Seay. I listened as Chris sadly report that Chris (Oden) passed away the night before and felt deep sympathy for this young family and was very sorry I had been unaware of their story.

It occurred to me that I might on occasion post a link to a particular Voice podcast on this blog. So I clicked "send us your comments" and inquired if it was possible to do something like that. To my surprise I got a response only moments later. Tech support on a Friday night? Imagine the shock I felt when the signature on the email said "jc." After answering my techie question, jc went on to ask if I was the one who wrote Psalm 91. (I was.) Turns out the reason he was on the computer at that very moment was that he was working on his wife's memorial service and he was using the whole of Psalm 91--his wife's favorite scripture (and according to the family blog set up during her illness, the scripture she hung her hope on).

I have no explanation for why two precious young girls will be required to grow up without their mother. I don't know why what were the fervent prayers of many went unanswered, or were answered like this. What I do know is that in the very hour a man struggled to compose words that could somehow contain the grief and love he felt for the wife he expected to spend a lifetime with, a stranger who'd written his wife's psalm sent an email in the dark and that connection carried a tiny spark of light. A whisper of that Voice. Yes, I am with you. Still.

If you'd like to read more about the faith of a beautiful family, their blog is Chris Oden
Please keep the Odens in your prayers.

6 comments:

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

There is no better example than this of the mystery we bear in our hearts. When we cry out, why? God answers, yes.

Your picture is more exquisite for this.

Amy C. Moreno said...

Oh Allison,
What an amazing intermingling of connections. I am so sorry for the loss of such a dear woman. I ampraying for them. Thanks for sharing. I visited the blog...amazing family...

Stacy Barton said...

weeping, allison...been asking to see behind that curtain...

Jenni said...

I will surely pray for the Odens. The faith conveyed on their web site is amazing. We had a friend from St. John die too young from cancer, also - Kristen. The beautiful pictures of Chris Oden reminded me of the same light which poured out of Kristen while both healthy and sick. Chris was same caliber of woman and it is a mystery indeed why they were taken Home so early.

(Kristen's husband keeps a blog to honor Kristen's life and share pictures of their son, Sam. The link is on my blog - David Hartland)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to leave a comment. I saw this for the first time today. I am the older sister of Chris. I want to thank every one for your prayers. It has been the most heart wrenching thing I have ever experienced in my life watching my sister take her last breath. We were very best friends so if you can imagine the hurt of her loss has overwhelmed my life. I am here for my nieces and they talk of their mother often. The baby knows her mom and has not forgotten her. She asks about where is her mommy. it is heartbreaking but Chris poured alot of love in that child in those two years with her. Haven is coping the best she can but she is a bright, intellectual child with a great future. My family is having a hard time. My mom and dad have their moments( alot of them). My younger sister misses her daily as well. We have become even closer from this tragedy. But I can honestly say my life will never be the same without her. My dad said we were joined at the hip and now I feel as part of me died also. Please continut to pray for all of us especially during the first of many firsts. We are still believing in our God no matter the whys and no matter the questions unanswered. We believe we will be reunited soon with her. Thank you for your prayers!

allison said...

My whole family, minus my youngest brother, is gathered now in Dallas for Thanksgiving. My family is thinking of yours and know well the pain of loss, my brother always with and not with us. I remember getting through the first holidays without him, or trying to.
Our hearts go out to you, your parents, your siblings, your brother-in-law, and especially your dear nieces.
And tomorrow we will all be even more grateful that we have had another year, another day, another hour to be together and truly give thanks. We will thank God for the life Chris had and has. God bless.