"I became a Christian as a result of this loss," he said. "Tragedy or opportunity? The lines get blurred on this side of heaven. Perhaps the tragedy lies in not seizing the opportunities." --Carolyn Weber in Surprised by Oxford, p. 397.
Today I finished reading Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber. I also put my father on an airplane back home to Boston and waited to hear if the surgeon thinks the lump he removed from Mike is a cancer relapse.
I began the book months ago, relishing it slowly. It's a coming-to-faith memoir of a Canadian graduate student who traveled to Oxford University to study English Literature. Beautiful writing about literature and faith, it is a 400-page delight to me, a writer with an English degree.
Dad came on Friday for his third visit in six years, which is to say I've spent more time with him in the last six years than the previous 25 put together. But this time it didn't feel like making up or catching up. It felt like a plain ol' visit with your dad, who lives far away. It felt regular and normal.
The things we did before we did again:
We ate wings from the round table at D's.
We toasted — this time to Columbia, Singapore, Boston, Houston and Daryn, who isn't with us this time and whom we miss. (Cheers!)
Wayne and Dad slipped out to share a beer.
We sang all Dad's old favorite songs, and this time everyone already knew them.
We weren't forging new territory, and we weren't making new traditions; we were keeping old ones.
This is no small thing, even though relationship status quo is a plain ol' regular, small thing.
I said goodbye to my father at an airport without crying for the first time in a lifetime of saying goodbye in airports. It felt so, so good. And easy.
From the eternal perspective of grace, I began to see everything with new eyes. Especially my relationships. Especially my relationship with my father. Through grace, I now realized I had so much. Loving him was like giving away pennies when I was rich beyond measure. And somehow my coffers never lessened; in fact, they seemed fuller for the giving. Having my identity in an eternal Father gave me the freedom to explore better how to love best. --Carolyn Weber in Surprised By Oxford. page 439.
We prayed and we kissed and they wheeled Mike to the O. R. I read in the waiting room and finished the last chapter just as the desk called me and took me back to Mike. The surgeon came in long enough to shake hands and repeat he think it's a fatty cyst, but they're sending it for pathology to be sure. Mike dressed and stood. We hugged and kissed and cried relief in recovery, something we haven't had to do in 16 years.
Dad texts (Dad texts!): Just landed. all ok.
Another notification tells me Wayne checked in at Yard House in Atlanta for a late lunch with his daughters on their way to Birmingham.
...a happy ending makes up not only for a lot, but for everything. And then some. ... Often, it is messy, but that's okay. Abundance tends to look that way. --Carolyn Weber, Surprised By Oxford. page 428 and 439.