Last week, exiting a store, I was behind a woman whose arms were full of boxed soda cans. As she was walking she suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a coin she had spotted on the pavement. The drinks shifted, she adjusted them in her arms and was able to grab the coin with her fingers while also holding her keys. I was impressed with her dexterity but also puzzled as to why she was putting that much effort into the shiny object?
I was reminded of the story of the wise man and the city dweller who had met on a bench. The city was full of hustle and bustle and the man asked the sage what he was doing? Quietly the wise man said; “At this moment I am listening to the sound of a cricket.” The city dweller tilted his head and asked; “With all these people, the traffic, the cacophony of the city, how do you hear a solitary, small, insect?” The wise man smiled and asked the city dweller for a coin. He gave him one and the wise one flipped it into the air and it came down and bounced on the sidewalk. Immediately, many who were walking stopped to look for the coin. “See?‘ said the teacher, ‘It’s what we’re listening for, focused on, that counts.”
Surfing or Drowning –
I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.
How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.
Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.