“He will wipe the tears from all faces.” It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.
Someone precious to our family is dying, after living a long and faithful life of loving devotion and service to God and the people she cared for and about. There are tears being shed by those of us watching her grow weaker and drift farther from the shore of the living, hour by hour. Her hands are still warm as we hold her firmly, asking her to open her eyes, acknowledge we are near, not depart from us quite yet.
But her goodbye will come soon and more tears will be shed. We will have lost our anchor of over eight decades and will be adrift in the flood of our weeping.
He knows this is what is required of the living, so is prepared, shoulder and sleeve and hanky at the ready, to stem our flow and wipe away our every tear. Death shall be no more, nor shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain.
As we watch her gathered into His arms and carried away, we know it is lovely and it is good.
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -- Emily Dickinson
A life well lived is no flat passage.
There are bumps and hollows,
pinnacles and valleys.
Looking up from the path,
beyond the next step,
it can be surprising to see
where the road is leading:
sometimes straight up into the blue,
sometimes a plunge into an abyss.
Living slant is each step taken
with eyes focused forward--
no looking back;
even if the climb exhausts
the descent precipitous,
treading unafraid to reach
a destination unknown
Live all of life but live it slant.
There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.
Marilynne Robinson in Gilead
There are a thousand thousand people on any given day who cannot think of one sufficient reason to live this life.
There are a few thousand who will decide this is their last day.
There are a few who say goodbye.
It is enough for me to find just one reason to live today.
It is enough for me to help someone else find just one reason today.
One is enough.
“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake.”
― C.S. Lewis from “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer”
The older I get, the more I recognize the need to be alert and awake to the presence of God in the crowded world around me. It doesn’t come naturally. We humans have an attention deficit, choosing to focus inwardly on self and ignoring the rest. If it isn’t for me, or like me, or about me, it somehow is not worthy of our consideration. We wear blinders, asleep.
We need help to recognize the presence of God, to peel the layers off the ordinary and find Him at the core, incognito. We need help to attend to where He is, invisible in plain sight.
Tell us where you found Him in the crowd today. Share how you stay awake to Him as He walks next to you unrecognized. Tell us how your heart burns within you, knowing He is present.
And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,
where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.
-Wendell Berry from “To My Mother”
To think of love strengthened and powerfully shared through forgiveness,
experiencing grace that knows no bounds:
this is heaven where light is music
the tangles we have made of our lives
are unraveled, straightened and smoothed
there is no longer worry or dismay
I can only hope to love thus
as I’ve been loved
and forever will be.
We human beings do real harm. History could make a stone weep.
Created with the freedom to choose our own way, we tend to opt for the path of least resistance with the highest pay back. Hey, after all, we’re human and that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it. No road less traveled on for most of us–instead we blindly head down the superhighway of what’s best for number one, no matter what the means of transportation, what it costs to get there, how seedy the billboards or how many warning signs appear, or where the ultimate destination takes us.
History is full of the piled-high wrecking yards of demolition remnants from crashes along the way.
It’s enough to make a stone weep indeed. Certainly God wept and probably still does.
And He knew what He was doing and thought it good.
“No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.” ― C.S. Lewis
I am a big fan of hot baths, always have been. No matter how long the day, how sweaty the work, how gritty the accumulated grime, a bath takes care of it. That cleansing is something to look forward to: staying dirty is only temporary, not a permanent condition.
Somehow I manage to stumble and fall regularly, get mussed and messy, and need to get clean all over again. And again. Thankfully there is plenty of hot water, clouds of soap suds, and a stiff scrub brush.