As the snowstorm cancelled schools in Minnesota last week, 90 year-old Lorraine Garrison was surrounded by family and friends who celebrated her life.
Lorraine’s grandson, Jeff, reminded the minister of the story of Rizpah, the diligent mother who perched her body on the rock after two of her children were hanged by the Gibeonites, and stayed there for five months to keep the birds and animals of prey away. Lorraine was a Rizpah, watching over her adult children and her grandchildren from her room in the nursing home in Chaska.
“Rizpah” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
Sin? O, yes, we are sinners, I know—let all that be, 60
And read me a Bible verse of the Lord’s goodwill toward men—
“Full of compassion and mercy, the Lord”—let me hear it again;
“Full of compassion and mercy—long-suffering.” Yes, O, yes!
For the lawyer is born but to murder—the Saviour lives but to bless.
He’ll never put on the black cap except for the worst of the worst, 65
And the first may be last—I have heard it in church—and the last may be first.
Suffering—O, long-suffering—yes, as the Lord must know,
Year after year in the mist and the wind and the shower and the snow.
Heard, have you? what? they have told you he never repented his sin.
How do they know it? are they his mother? are you of his kin? 70
Heard! have you ever heard, when the storm on the downs began,
The wind that’ll wail like a child and the sea that’ll moan like a man?
Election, Election, and Reprobation—it’s all very well.
But I go to-night to my boy, and I shall not find him in Hell.
For I cared so much for my boy that the Lord has look’d into my care, 75
And He means me I’m sure to be happy with Willy, I know not where.
The story comes from Second Book Samuel 21:10-11: “And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.”
Thank God for the Rizpahs of this world who will never let Willy get lost.