It has been a week where death has knocked on my door a few times. In our culture, death is usually relegated to bad guys who meet their messy, but just, end on the big screen, or found in statistics that are for the most part distant and therefore, somewhat meaningless, or just some unfortunate incident on the news. This week, it was different.
First came a phone call from my mother on Sunday night informing me that her brother had died. Something in her opening sentence, "I don't have any more brothers," painfully reflected the hollowness that death leaves behind. Yesterday, one of our colleagues in the family of Vineyard Canada (our church affiliation) was killed in Africa in an accident while on a year-long adventure and humanitarian aid trip with his young family. The images from a devastating earthquake in Christchurch yesterday just added to the sense of loss and being lost.
This week I was reading a book on the metro in which the writer said that if he gets to heaven, he has a question he wants to ask God. His was about giraffes, but others often indicate that same desire to ask some variation of "Why?" when they finally encounter the Omniscient One. Personally (and from some reading I have done of respected ancient texts), I believe one's first response when coming into contact with the otherness of Holiness is usually to fall down in terror, worship and gape in awe, or be rendered speechless. Questions are not at the top of the list of activities in the presence of God, it seems.
Nevertheless, this week has unsettled me and left me wondering. The question I have is not why but what now? How does one move forward after death has visited? How does one live honestly and well, yet with joy and spontaneity? How does one open their heart to compassion without having it break continuously? How does one stop fear and death from becoming bigger than love and life? I don't know the answers. They can only be answered in the living out of life and for me, by letting the day to day deadly despondency be washed away under the waterfall of grace.
In the end, it is not I who ask the questions of God; it is he who asks: "Do you trust me?" May I say yes before I have complete understanding, before I know everything I feel I need to know, and before doubt creeps in and makes a malignant nest.
I raise a glass to the breath of life (inspiration) infused into me by the lives of Uncle Pete and Mr. Hall. You made and continue to make my life richer.
This is a photo of a wall hanging that I came across in a day care for underprivileged families on my visit to South Africa in 2006.