Grieving and the Goodness of Life

A friend passed away suddenly this week, and as I was weeping and grieving and feeling angry that he was taken in such an inane way, I thought, “How fortunate is he, that he is with you now, God.  I wish I could be there with you, too, and be done with this insignificant existence on earth.”  And then I thought, “How stupid and small are all these details of life that we focus on.  Soon we will all be with Jesus and none of these things will have mattered at all.”  But I immediately felt convicted.  Because, as God reminded me, the small things DO matter.

The small things are our concrete reminders of the love of God.  A hundred times a day–perhaps a thousand if we were fully aware–the messages of God’s love come drifting down to us.  The sound of coffee brewing in the pot.  The smell of freshly fallen autumn leaves. A line in a book that speaks to our souls.  Everywhere we turn, He whispers to us.  And these whispers are worth waking up for each day.  Each one speaks His love.  And to receive His love is to live.  Life is–in its purest, most essential form–to be loved by God.

“Why have I been so hungry all summer?” I asked.

“Because eating is part of life.  So is loving.”

It rang true. “Let’s concentrate on eating, then. For now.”  Then I asked, “Have you been hungry, too?”

“Famished.  I talked to my mom about it, and she explained about it being an urge to live.  When Dad’s father died–he had  heart attack unexpectedly, just like Dad–they wept, and then they made love.  And she showed me that this wasn’t being disrespectful, but a–what did she call it?  Oh yes, an affirmation of the goodness of life.”

–Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

*********

To remain with the dead is to abandon them.  All the years I felt Bella entreating me, filled with her loneliness, I was mistaken.  I have misunderstood her signals.  Like other ghosts, she whispers; not for me to join her, but so that, when I’m close enough, she can push me back into the world.

–Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

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