Friday, November 13, 2009

The fiercest storms

I've been crouched over my dining room table for the last two days, working on a t-shirt quilt for my baby brother.  I keep thinking that such a project will keep me from thinking about G-J, but the opposite is true. Piecing a quilt, even if it's as complicated as this one, doesn't engage my brain.  So my brain is left to wander south to a hospice home, west to a retirement complex where Grampie lives--Grampie who fell in the bathroom earlier this week and landed in the hospital himself for two days, or east to where Mom stares vacantly out the window, not seeing a single thing.

There are seasons in life that are like the calmest of rivers on a lazy summer afternoon.  You simply allow the current to carry you along in your wide, tractor-tire inner-tube, trailing your fingers through the quiet water, content and cool in the heat.  Days where the rhythm of schedules is predictable and easy, unless a child forgets her math homework, a son forgets his soccer shoes, or the casserole burns in the oven.  But for long patches no one forgets anything and you drift along, carefree in your relationships--careless in them even.

But now and then, most of the time without much warning, life is more like a rolling ocean in the pitch of a thunderstorm.  There is nothing carefree or careless about it.  You hang on for dear life and wonder if you'll make it out of the next wave alive. In the worst of such storms, maybe you'll end up in the angry sea with nothing to hang on to but hope.  Hope and faith.

We're living there at the moment.  Right as we were going about our lives, just as we settled into another school year, with the steady rhythm of week-day and week-end, right in the middle of another ordinary week, meandering on the calmest of rivers, we were thrust into a storm we knew would come someday, but please God, not this week, not right now.  Not yet...

But here we are, and the truth is, if we hadn't been living well during those seasons of calm, if we hadn't be practicing our faith in the mirror for just such moments, these things would surely catapult us into the raging water--and we'd find ourselves drowning in it all.  Mom, Grampie (and fragile Thyrza, for that matter), and G-J, of course. G-J, whose name, I will tell you is Gloria.  Gloria.  As in Glory, as in glory to God in the highest.  Can you imagine?  This woman, this broken, beautiful woman was named for Glory.  Because that is what she is.  That is what we all are, after all--we are the glory in His crown, we are His sweetest creation.  Anyway, we spend our days--our lives, come to think of it--preparing for such days as when the hardest things hit.  Every day with Him is a rehearsal.  It is.  I know the world thinks life isn't a rehearsal, but as believers, we know otherwise.  We know that we practice and rehearse, and prepare, not only for when the hard water hits, but also for what comes after.  If we hadn't been practicing our faith--practicing His presence, as Brother Lawrence put it--how could we be able to live it now? 

So today, as I worked on that quilt, waiting for the next wave of this storm we're in, I'm thankful for all the practice He's given me.  And I can tell you, I'm leaning into the words I learned by heart before I ever needed them.  He will not give us more than we can handle (don't tell anyone, but I've taken this slightly out of context...); that, even in the fiercest of storms, He's in my boat and can--with a word--calm the storms;  that blessed in the sight of our Lord is the death of His saints--his saint Gloria, Grampie, Thryza, Mom.  Whenever they come. Blessed...

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