These weeks leading up to Advent have been difficult ones for me on a personal level. Death has intervened in these last days.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend, the wife of one of my closest bishop friends, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. She had been ill for some time. Still, this development took us all be surprise. She lingered at the door between life and death for nearly two weeks, finally entering eternity in what I’m certain was an act of courage and compassion for her family the day before Thanksgiving. God grant you peace, Anne.
And during the same time, and for several weeks before, the husband of a priest, someone of whom I’m incredibly proud and for whom I’m very grateful, was struggling with a mysterious and life-threatening lung infection. He himself was mysterious in a way, but unquestionably life giving. He gave abundant life to his husband Matt. He quietly and without apparent intention caused people to look at life more fully than they thought they could. He showed me something of the power of his life in the strength with which he held my hand at his ICU bedside while we prayed together with family. He finally let go after his long struggle on Monday in a way that, like Anne, I have no doubt was his choice, a final expression of love. God grant you eternal healing, Dan.
Both of these deaths touched me deeply at exactly the time when I was paradoxically experiencing perhaps the greatest sign of love I have ever known, the birth of my granddaughter Sophie. Every thought of her so fills my mind that there is no room for anything else. Every dream of her so fills my imagination that no other can enter in.
People I love so felt such pain and grief at the very same time my family and I felt such joy. They were in the midst of death. We were in the midst of life. Of course, I was also in the midst of death with them. And they, I have no doubt, were in the midst of life with us.
Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize. The midst of death. The midst of life. They are the same thing. They are the stuff of what it is to be alive as God has given it.
The order, though, turns out to be different than I’d thought. It is not that death follows life. What I’ve learned in these days of Anne, Dan, and Sophie is that it is life that follows death. Anne and Dan have left us to wait beyond. Sophie has come to wait with us here. As surely as I have do doubt that my love for Sophie will never die, so I know that my love for Anne and Dan will never die. And as long as there is love, there is life. Death does not end love. Death is but another aspect of it. Anne and Dan have been. Sophie is. Life will come again. And again. And again.
It is all grace. “This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 1but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9b-10). Somehow I see it all so much clearly now thanks to Anne, Dan, and Sophie.
And that brings us to the Advent darkness as the apparent shadows lengthen and the days shorten. Light will come again. We know it. For now, though, we wait. We wait with Anne and Dan. We wait with Sophie. We wait with each other. We wait. Light is surely coming. Christ will surely come. We know this because love most surely comes and comes and comes again. We have learned to wait so that we can see it all the more clearly.
Founder and CEO, Love Must Act
Love Must Act is pleased to offer a series of daily reflections entitled Waiting for Hope. Daily reflections will be posted on our website at www.LoveMustAct/blog and on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LoveMustAct. We hope they enhance your waiting for the joy to come.