"To every thing there is a season, and at time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...." Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
A very familiar Bible text. One I am sure you have heard before. What a promise though when you think about it. It is a promise that, no matter what is going on, how chaotic things may seem, there is still order. There is still control. Everything happens as it should in its time and place. Spring will always follow winter. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west. At least once a month, there will be a full moon in the night sky. Some things just will happen whether I want them to or not. I found that out in a very profound way on the first day of 2009.
The day started off with the great news that my high school friend, Alex, and his wife were celebrating the birth of their daughter, little baby Grace. Alex is currently stationed in Afghanistan, but through the marvels of modern technology, he was actually able to hear Grace cry for the first time shortly before 9a on New Years Day. I was blessed to be the first one to comment on his Facebook status after he posted the news. Congratulations to the entire family as they celebrate this wonderful event.
However, by the end of the day, another high school classmate, Susan, called me to inform me that her father suffered a massive heart attack and died at the age of 77. I never had the opportunity or privilege of meeting Susan's dad and listening to her reminisce about who he was and what he meant to her - I truly feel like I missed out by not knowing him. My heart goes out to her family as they gather to celebrate his life and say their goodbyes over the next week.
As I was talking to Susan and trying to provide comfort in a time of sorrow, I remarked to her, "you know, this is just the circle of life. There was the miracle of birth and now the sorrow of death, literally within hours of each other." As one life began, another ended. There is a symmetry and beauty (is that the right word?) to it, when you think about it. I know that Susan is comforted by the thought of her relationship with her father ("I was his favorite") and is secure in the knowledge that he loved her and knew that she loved him as well. That will help sustain her in the days ahead when she is missing him...and those days will come. Believe me, I know. I pray that Alex and Terri will every day let baby Grace know how much she is loved and wanted and how blessed they feel that she has joined their family. Based on the pictures already posted on Facebook, I am sure that will happen.
Things happen. In their time. In their place. As they should. I hope that as you face the challenges, trials, sorrows and stresses that are sure to come in the 365 days that will make up 2009, that you will remember that there will also be times of joy, happiness, laughter and pure unadulterated pleasure. I pray you have more of the latter than the former.