Things We Never Knew We'd Fast

by - March 17, 2020

I opened the mailbox on Saturday and saw a name from the past pushing up through the stack of mail from the return address corner. An old acquaintance I haven't thought of in a lifetime.

He mailed me grainy pictures taken by a disposable camera circa 1986. Pictures of teenagers at Ship Island, one of whom was Jeff.

I don't think of him so much anymore. Until he died, it was the hardest thing I had ever faced. Since then there's been cancer, Alzheimer's, divorce, Hurricane Katrina, the unthinkable. So many people and beautiful things are simply gone.

Ru looked through the pictures and was struck by the one that was the ancestor of today's selfie. Jeff's face filled the lens with a clear image. He's sandy and salty, and I had forgotten his hair was a little curly like mine if it was humid. She said, "Look at him. I've never been able to make out his face in all the old photographs. And, now, there he is." She touched his dimple with her index finger, I think because she has one of her own.

I marvel every time I see my children's affinity for an uncle they never met. So I re-read all the posts I've written about him here over the years and allowed myself to think of him.

So much of life doesn't make sense. We always say that about the bad parts, but never do we say it about the good.

I remember leaning onto his casket, letting him hold me up one last time, and promising him I would think of him every day for the rest of my life. That was 26 years ago, when I was 25. I don't even know when I failed that vow, I'm just glad I did.

The sky has been heavy with overcast clouds the last few days. The whole world is thinking about sickness and death in the face of COVID-19 crawling its way around the globe. I don't remember a time when we've been in one accord globally like this.

I've seen panic, kindness, fear, greed, and love. People have receded with fear and with caution. The earth seems eerily abandoned by those who are shutting themselves in against the unknown and a foe much bigger than the frail human body. It makes us compliant, and rightly so.

But it also makes me want to live. In the face of threat from virus and the reminder of loss in my mailbox, I want to live.

Sometimes you have to let the dead things go so you can really live.

I want to love and show kindness and generosity in the face of fear, isolation, sickness, and horror. I want to be beauty and light to a dying world.

I choose hope in the face of sorrow. I choose words that rise, and I choose to trust in tomorrow. I choose to embrace the broken and the redeemed and the ache, and walk with a limp for all life has dealt me.

The world is slowing and it hurts because I've been trying to outrun pain. I need to go fast right now, and even that is being taken from me in the shutting down and shutting in against pandemic.

We are asked to withdraw from each other and activity, so I must learn to live with fear and death and distance, not outrun them. I must relearn to be quiet and at ease in the stillness and slowness.

On this earth, we find we must fast the things we long for, things that are scarce right now: togetherness. love, fellowship, communion. But these are the things we will see and know in their fullness and feast on forever in heaven.

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  1. Lovely and true. I stand with you, Friend. And no one will contest that proximity :)


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