Our local newspaper will publish this some time or another.

I felt a little relief lately in finding out that I wasn’t the only one whose phone contains dead people. There were recent media reports about the reluctance of some people to delete the details of those who have died from their electronic contact list. I am one of those people.
As I scroll through contacts I see relationships that span decades, and also a significant number of folk I’ve known since I moved to Mount Gambier.
Seeing the names is an incidental activity. I don’t just sit and look through my contacts on a regular basis. Usually I want to call, message or email someone. Occasionally details need to be forwarded to other people.
So the names of friends, colleagues, family and others flash before me. Sometimes later I’ll think of them; of the circumstances of our meeting, times we’ve shared together, the time of their death.
From time to time I wonder why I don’t delete their contacts. Each time I know why they remain. It’s not because I’m a terrible administrator (though I am a terrible administrator). It’s not because of some phobia. It’s because I like them being there. I like these unplanned and random remembrances of friends departed.
Deleting their names would take these encounters away. And it would make them seem to be gone. But they’re not really gone.
Jesus recalled that when God spoke of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he said ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’, not that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus believed that God spoke that way because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with all of the faithful, had not departed to non-existence but still existed in relationship with God.
It always makes me a bit sad when I attend the funerals of folk who I know believe in a life beyond this one, but those gathered get told the only way they now exist is in the memories of their loved ones. That’s not the belief that carried these folk through life and comforted them as they faced the grave. Their hope and belief should at least be acknowledged and not ignored or set aside as people give remember their lives.
I don’t keep those contacts in my phone because my memories of these folk are all that exists of them.
I keep them because they remind me, that even though they are not physically present, that they lived and died believing that they would continue in relationship with God after the grave through trust in Jesus who is the resurrection and the life.
I keep their details to remind me that our contact though interrupted, will one day resume.

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