Sunday, August 02, 2009

God's in His Heaven

I sit out in the quiet of evening; a silent breeze moving through the branches of the nearby trees. The time between daylight and nightfall can be so still; so hushed. A gray, hazy veil covers the sky; a pale moon shining softly from a spot up above, like a beacon breaking through fog.

Psalm 8:3-4 (The Message)
3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?

I don't usually see myself as "micro," but gazing into the night sky, or an image of earth taken by satellite, puts things into perspective.

Lately I've been thinking about the past; sorting through old photos and organizing them, and it has brought home to me that I have more time behind me than ahead. There are children in my life with whom I hope to share many more years; but, at a certain point, they will go on and I will not.

Paul and I are reading Tony Campolo's book, How to Follow Jesus without Embarrassing God, and we are on a chapter entitled, How to Get Ready to Die without Pretending That It's No Problem. It is hard to imagine the world without "us" but, as a friend pointed out this week, it's like putting our hand in a bucket of water and swishing it around. We can make a stir while it's in there, but when we take it out, the water closes immediately over the place where it was.

This week it was the sixth anniversary of a friend's death. While she lived it was hard to imagine her not being here. She knew how to make a stir and her energy infused the atmosphere around her like electricity. Her mind raced with the speed of lightning and left us reeling most of the time, but her charm and vulnerability made it impossible not to love her. She lived in a group home and would often wail, "I don't want to die. I want to live forever in the group home." The thought of being buried in the ground preoccupied and horrified her and no amount of reasoning reassured her. Now I think that she probably had a more clear view of the whole business of dying than I do because even though she feared it, she faced it.

Tony Campolo writes that: On an intellectual level, everybody knows that he or she is going to die. But it is still difficult to embrace the idea subjectively. To feel the reality of one's mortality is far different from merely thinking about it as an inevitable fact of life.

I think there's something to be said for getting to this point of really knowing that my life is micro in terms of time and the universe. God is macro on a level that I can't comprehend and he has everything well in hand. It kind of takes the pressure off, you know?

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!

Robert Browning


Dave Hingsburger said...

Death is not the end of the road it's a bend in the road.

Death is turning down of a lamp because dawn has come.

I remember being told these things by someone trying to comfort me during a time of great loss. I did not find them comforting. What game me comfort was to talk, starkly, about loss and about emptiness. I would be interested to learn more of what you are learning.

Belinda said...

Platitudes don't help--ever, do they?

I'm still trying to figure it all out. I don't want to be surprised by either my smallness or by my infinite importance, to God.

Julie said...

Thank you Belinda for your thoughts. I am in the final weeks of coming up to the first year of my dads passing, this period of time is proving to be more challenging than the past 11 months all together. I find myself each day thinking about what I was doing this time, this day last year. I watched him go from fighting the fear of dying to resting in the Lord and letting go. What you shared is very comforting at this time. Thank you
Have a Blessed day

Joanna Mallory said...

Dave, sometimes I think people offer comments like the ones that didn't help you because each of us is trying to understand it ourselves and to help one another understand -- as if that could somehow take away the pain. Loss hurts. Pure and simple. And we need to talk about it as we work through it.

Belinda, thanks for these thoughts. I must track down Tony Campolo's book. I have a lot of respect for him. Great title! How to Follow Jesus without Embarrassing God.

What you're saying about preparing for death as a part of life reminds me of Tuesdays with Morrie, which I read last month.

Belinda said...

As always, the conversation deepens and grows with the comments of friends.

Julie, I send you a hug as you mourn your dad through this painful anniversary time. God bless and hold you close.

Marilyn said...

Yes indeed, to embrace the reality is far different, but it can be a marvelous embrace, forcing us to discover what we believe. He is there, even in that moment, to show Himself.

Me, micro.
Him, macro.
It's a good arrangement.

You (and the other commenters) have touched on a subject near and dear to my heart.