Good days. Little troubles. (Is there such a thing? I guess so.) Here's some happy stuff. Bo-Beau, loving on his daddy.
You could fall overboard and die.
You could capsize and die.
Or you could stay home and fall of the couch and die."
I took some sky shots this afternoon because the clouds were emotionally overwhelming for a tiny human.
(Okay, now I get wordy, and if you prefer a picture-blog, please click away now.)
The change of seasons, heavy in the air, produces in me a pensive spirit, an expectancy of leaden but cathartic thoughts. It's troubling, but it happens each year as my heart anticipates cooler, darker, melancholy days. I find summer wearying. I find winter invigorating. Autumn is winter's harbinger, and my soul longs for the spiritual sleep, the soul's still rest that winter offers.
I'm bemused lately about death. When we see death coming from afar, we brace ourselves, arm for the battle, and engage heartily. We think we look death in the face, but maybe we look only at the dying days, the process of dying. We cross swords using surgery, medicines, treatments, specialists, prayer, and optimism. We feel we've looked death in the eye and given our best fight.
But when death thunders in, unexpected? Recently I've heard of two sudden deaths by drowning. One was a boy, adopted after 17 horrible years in an Eastern European orphanage. At last, he was loved, nurtured, taught, cherished. God answered yes to the impossible for this child. He was brought halfway around the world to a new life. His parents, siblings, and caregivers were well-trained; there was no neglect. But in a matter of seconds, he drowned in a bath tub. Why?
A lovely Christian family, friends of friends, lost their husband and father in a shocking, bizarre drowning at the beach. My heart has ached for the wife who watched her life ebb away, knowing that God had planned this moment, planned it for her. Why? Why take him so suddenly? Why not allow them to say good-bye? It's the horror we all dread -- that death might snatch one away, not giving the usual warning. No battle. No crossed swords. We are fooling ourselves to think that we defeat death when we only extend our lives by a decade or two.
How do we mourn with hope? How can that grieving mother console herself, in spite of the horror of finding her precious gem of a son dead after all he'd been through before, that his death is only a comma in the ongoing story of his continuing life? That she simply watched a passing, a transition? That the moment which feels like a horrific mistake -- (Please! It's a mistake! Can we go back and relive those three minutes? Please!) -- is no mistake? That the moment of his death was set from before the foundation of God's world?
How have we defined death? It is the ultimate surprise. It's over before we are prepared. We don't face it at all. We try to face the process of dying. But death itself is always wrong. I'm ruminating about something I've had little experience in. I've skirted the edges of death several times. I try to remind myself what death is to God. He is never surprised by our deaths. Is it helpful to know, in the midst of chaos, grief, horror, agony, regret, and guilt, that one Person watches death every time and is neither surprised nor bemused? It is an essential part of His plan. How do we soothe the pain of that deliberate wounding?
I don't know. God is a surgeon, sure. He performs many repairs on our souls, and the death of a loved one is a cutting with inadequate anesthesia. But in His intricate system the pain itself is important for us somehow. We're horrified to watch death snatch someone. The boy, the husband ... is it a horror to them? I don't think so. For us who observe the flash of a soul's disappearance, the shattering loss and loneliness, our inner screams are evidence that we have insufficiently considered the transition from this brief world to the next. It's excruciating -- we know how long the years will feel -- like an eternity, we say. We struggle to consider this present trouble in balance with true eternal glory and being-together-forever. I'm not certain eternal life feels very real to those who mourn. I wonder if I will grasp it. Some have glowing faces that evidence they've seen a holy event. Some have the broken eyes of only grief. God help us all.