I remember the day my father drove into the garage after returning from his own father’s empty deathbed. He was coming home to collect us for the funeral. I greeted him at the door and he did not say a word, though he gave me a hug like no other. I was not quite 10 years old, yet old enough to feel his pain. For months I made cemetery roadways from marbles and drove my pretend hearse through the quiet resting place of those who had moved on.
When my mother first saw me after the death of her father, she dissolved in tears in a way that alarmed me greatly. I still remember my fear as I stood in that dark staircase, my mother’s tears falling from above. My aunt pulled my 10-year-old body close and assured me everything would be all right. I wasn’t so sure.
I remember seeing the email that said, “The executive committee wants to see you this coming Wednesday night. Clear your calendar.” I had no idea a meeting was in the offing, and the sight of the coldly clinical words felt like something vetted by attorneys. Those words were so terrible I felt them with my whole body. Things got worse before they got better.
Jacob lay beside the river Jabbok and anticipated the end of his days. He deserved to die at the hands of his brother. A life of self-serving manipulation had caught up with him. An angel appeared and before he knew it Jacob was in a wrestling match that was still playing out at the light of dawn. It appeared Jacob could have won, since the angel did not always seem inclined to continue the fight. But Jacob knew better than to win a wrestling match with God, and with the rising sun he asked God for a blessing.
In this time of resting up for whatever is going to happen next, I have come to know that even in the most tumultuous of days there comes a brief moment in which you realize, “I’ve faced the worst this day could offer and I am still here, all right and fully human, with an intact soul.” It is a moment of blessing, when you realize you were not alone as you wrestled through the pain.
Sometimes this blessing is as light as a butterfly kiss in a hurricane. Yet in spite of the howling winds and stinging rain, the power of that brief kiss is enough to keep the earth spinning, fueled by nothing more or less than a certain kind of love.
It is a confirmation this is not a random planet in a boiling cauldron of mindless energy transactions. It is a realm into which life has been breathed, warm and sweet. And no matter the dark words that have invaded your space, in that brief moment of blessing, when the flutter of a silver maple disturbs a darkening sky, you apprehend the truth that this life is precious and holy and deeply good. And that is enough. For all of your days, that is enough.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Zoriah