IMPERISHABLE

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The rain hits the roof, its quiet voice filling the silence with a gentle song. In the drought stricken land where I live, I'm not sure nature's concert is entirely coincidental. Not quite a storm, it feels like the skies are weeping with me. This isn't a tempest, mother nature isn't angry. There's no lightning or thunder, there's no torrential downpour. Just a steady stream falling from the heavy clouds. A mournful cry, echoing through the twilight.

I don't feel angry, my fight has been drained. I suppose I just feel resigned to that reality that tomorrow is actually happening. Tomorrow we will bury our baby in the rain soaked ground. The soil softened to receive his tiny casket. The earth to hold him beneath her weight until the day Jesus calls his body up to new life.

There are passages in the Bible that I've read, so many times, but not completely read. "In the twinkling of an eye... the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable..." from Paul's letter to the Corinthians. It sounds somewhat magical, a little mystical. My experience thus far offers no context to frame something so seemingly abstract.

For the past twenty three days, I have known the power of death. I have lived in its shadow, and I suspect, it won't soon leave me alone. To behold a corpse is a powerful reminder that things are not as they should be. This world is broken. But to hold, in your hands, the lifeless form of a child is so far beyond broken, words elude me. The thought of John Mark becoming imperishable stretches beyond the limit of my wildest imagination.

And so to think on this short passage, and to truly believe it? It feels fantastical. Like maybe I'm delusional because I can't accept that death wins so easily? Maybe I'm grasping for straws because everything else around me feels so unsteady? But I don't know, maybe, there's actually this echo resonating inside me? It's atonal, hard to trace, impossible to describe. Sometimes its a beautiful symphony, but other times its like that famous composition, 4'33"- absolute silence and stillness. Just when I'm convinced that all has gone quiet, it calls to me, through the mist. Just enough to perk my ears, to snatch my attention. I long for more of the song, even though I can't quite sing the melody just yet.

We went to the cemetery, as one must do when they have someone to bury. We stood among the graves, I had trouble distinguishing reality from a dream. I looked over the hill to see the sun dipping into the afternoon sky. At the edge of the cliff, the ocean waves crashed into the beach below.

I could see the brave mouse Reepicheep tossing aside his sword and hastily paddling into the waves through to Aslan's country. from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 

I heard the chorus, "When we arrive at eternity's shore, where death is just a memory and tears are no more..." from "You're Beautiful" 

The mountains stood behind me, beckoning to that passage from Psyche-
The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing- to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from- my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back." from Till We Have Faces

The trees cast long shadows across the lawn-
"They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright, and real, and strong that everything began to look pale and shadowy compared to him."

As I stumble through this dream world, there are these glimpses of hope that I can't ignore. A breaking through of something that beckons to a part of my soul untouched by this world. Its a passage from a story, a lyric from a song, a line from a poem, an image from a painting...

Tomorrow, I'm not just going to visit the cemetery. I'm going to lay my son's body to rest there. I'm going to bury a piece of my heart, to surrender all the hopes I've held for him and for our family.

I'll leave less whole. I'll leave with missing pieces and deeper longing. I'll leave so desperate for my son to be changed to the imperishable, that my ear will be just a little more tuned to hear that trumpet's call. The loss of John Mark plays into the symphony, accompanied tonight by little more than the rain. Tonight's movement is the adagio. But this sadness is not all there is. The final movement is coming. Then all the instruments join in a grand finale, full with resolution, led, I'm convinced, by the loudest, more victorious trumpet any ear has ever heard.

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