To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV (also the Byrds 1960’s)
The ground was soft, giving way under my steps. I couldn’t help but think that this same path was covered by snow, drifting up to three feet, a week ago. Then temperatures touching zero, which had captured the sideways fall of the snow from gale force winds, creating a frosted effect on each branch and trunk, making the woods appear like a scene from Narnia, silent as ice.
Now the snow is gone, and the soft pine needles along the path that circles the pond, are a burnt umber and gold, spongy and wet. I’m in a sweatshirt; the rain is soft and almost warm. The pond, which was frozen solid a few days ago, has broken apart, with a few ice floats adrift along the shore. Change, I thought as I circled the pond early this morning with Rosie. Like it or not. Usually not.
Another friend died this week, this one unexpected. Anyone who knew Barb will agree that the life she lives now, in a place filled with a joy and glory we can’t even guess at with our little finite minds, is what this sweet woman looked towards for many years. Her body ravaged by cancer, surgeries, and throw in a traumatic car accident, yearned for release. You wouldn’t know it talking to her. Her smile betrayed her constant pain, a smile that had a little mischievous gleam to it always.
My son Spencer helped build part of her house, a fact she bragged about whenever I saw her. After his death, Barb was one of the few safe people I could go to. She let me talk about him, she allowed me to be a little crazy, and invariably we would end up talking about heaven, like two homesick girls. Prior to one of her surgeries several years ago, instead of giving her the “everything will be just fine” speech, I blurted out that I felt it was possible she could die. After all, my own life was no longer held together with Christian clichés and probabilities. God was mysterious and unpredictable. She burst out laughing at me, and then we both agreed it was a win-win situation. Now she has the final victory. She is home at last. And my world seems a little darker.
Things change. Funerals are a good opportunity to not only reflect upon this truth but also make some adjustments. Fine-tune a little, or maybe tear down some things and take them to the dump. I want to draw closer to Jesus, to cling to him a little tighter and release some things here that I hold on to; not necessarily material things, but the sandcastles of selfish ambition, security, pride. I want to love others without stipulation; really love, with arms open all the way. As I forge ahead into another year, Lord search me, then keep me, by your grace, from drifting into the lazy river of self-indulgence. Keep me alert.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT
Someday, I will see Him face to face, and all those who have gone before me. Lord, help me to be a good steward of the measured time you have given to me, that I can finish well.
Change. As soon as my friend Barb drew her last breath, somewhere a new life sprang from her mother’s womb with a gasping holler. The birds that mimic spring this morning with a song will huddle under an icy nor’easter next week. This I know…nothing is certain on this planet; nothing can be kept or nailed down for good. But there is a sure foundation that never changes. As the old hymn goes;
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Next blog I promise I won’t write about another friend who died, even if they do. Unless it’s me. Then I refer you back to this one. Finish well, and cling to Jesus like you never ever will let go. Then I will see you again someday, in perfect clarity, face to face.