I Did Not Try
The night before I went to Mount Hermon, a dear friend of ours passed away quite unexpectedly— a massive stroke, in a young man. The day I returned, I had news from another friend, whose sister just lost her newborn son. My trip, so life giving in many ways, was bookended by death.
Yesterday, a wonderful speaker, Jason Gaboury, came to our church. He talked about what it is like when we have a bad day, a bad year, or even a bad decade. I realize that when it comes to the issue of death, I, along with my community, have had a bad decade, striated with seemingly senseless deaths (all death of course is senseless in its way, but we more readily accept the passing of a person who has had a "fullness of years").
Gaboury, looking at the book of Daniel, asked us to consider whether we could see God in the midst of dark times of captivity. Indeed, he urged us to listen for God's footfall in the shadows. Somehow this came together for me in the words of Krista Tippett, regarding the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer "just weeks before the collapse of the Reich."
She says, "His death seemed to me a puzzle, a piece of religious irony. Wasn't this a failure of God, a rebuttal of the very idea of God? Yet some irrational aura of triumph— defying my sense of time as flat and contained — surrounded Bonhoeffer's legacy. I could not fathom this... and I did not try." (p.42)
In her words, I realize that I am two-dimensional when it comes to trying to understand these matters. My sense of time is flat and contained. I cannot fathom the whys and hows, the shape of death and the mystery of eternal life that transcends it. And, in her words, I find the comforting thought that it is okay to put my head down and weep. To say, along with Tippet, "I did not [even] try."
Striated Rock photo, by L.L. Barkat.
LL's Tired of Dying
Christine's Gabriel Gifford Scheller