It snowed on her birthday. Not a lot. But even a light dusting is a rare event, here. A mere inch of the fluff--laughable in many locales--is cause for either celebration or commiseration in this area, depending on one’s perspective. Mom fit firmly into the celebratory category so the unexpected blanket of white seemed an appropriate gift.
On my way to the kitchen my gaze fell upon something else which always brought her joy…roses. The vase of lovely yellow blooms which graced the dining table had been sent by a family member as a remembrance in appreciation for all of Mom’s prayers through the years.
I busied myself with the tasks of the morning. Fill the wood stove…brew the coffee…empty the dishwasher…take care of the pets…make the toast. All done automatically--my mind far from these chores. As my husband, son and dad made their appearances I abandoned preparations for attending church. It quickly became clear that none of us was ready…it was just too soon. That Sunday in particular.
We had talked about it ahead of time…we knew that her birthday would be difficult. We had so hoped to celebrate at least one more with her. Oh, don’t get me wrong…we know well how blessed we have been. Her sojourn here was, by any standard, a “good, long life”. …But that doesn’t mean we miss her any less.
A thousand thoughts tumbled through my mind, careening here and there with little direction. Much in the manner of the puppies in the living room trying to play with one another on still-unwieldy limbs…starting, stopping, falling over, trying desperately to run forward but backing up instead…then going through it all again.
One theme which surfaces regularly into my jumble of thoughts is not new. I have pondered these questions before, on similar occasions…
Why is it that we get so caught up in the trivialities of life--desperately pursuing things of little value until a loss or crisis shows us once again what’s really important?
What makes our vision of the truly valuable--the eternal--so limited?
How can we expand it?
Morning chores completed, I wandered to the window to watch the snow fall. Dad sat quietly in the chair next to the window near the comforting warmth of the wood stove, his forehead resting on one hand…his eyes closed. I thought he was asleep.
“She gave me a message.”
“Did she, Dad?”
“This morning…about six o’clock. It was like she stood at the foot of my bed and talked to me. She told me, ‘I’ve been down a long and difficult road these past few years. Finally this week I came to a door. I knocked on the door. Jesus answered…’
It took several moments for each of us to regain enough composure to allow Dad to continue.
’…He asked me if I wanted to come through that door. I told him that I did. Everything changed the moment I stepped through that door. I can walk without help again. I can talk without struggling to find the right word again. The limits I had lived with since the stroke and the broken hip are all gone. I am whole.’”
It’s something we all believed…but Dad’s vision that snowy January Sunday took us beyond a simple belief…it gave us one of those rare glimpses straight into eternity.
My thoughts returned to my former ponderings. We’re human. And because we are, we do see through the glass darkly. Those moments when we gain a sense of our true alliance with the eternal are brief. Once the immediacy of a loss or crisis has passed we do get caught up once again in the world around us…even though we know that we are not really of this world. There are many ways we can deepen our connection with what’s really important…church attendance, prayer, Bible study. But I think another way should be to share our experiences. Perhaps…just perhaps, if we tell our stories--like Dad’s dream--and determine keep such things in mind this might become another means to help us expand our focus on the eternal, while obliged to reside in the temporal.
…Maybe we can even learn to spend more of our time pursuing true treasure instead its pale imitations.
“One of these days, when you can, I want you to write this. People need to know.”
“I will, Dad,” I promised.
…And so I have.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Matthew 6:19-20a NIV
In loving memory--until we meet again...
January 27, 1917 - January 24, 2008
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