I sit out in my back yard in the quiet of a September morning, throwing a tennis ball for my dog, thinking how lovely the day is, how blue the sky and pleasant the breeze. But there's something else fully occupying my mind, sitting fully on my shoulder, so to speak.
I've seen what happens when, for example, seemingly harmless cells form where they should not, take over and grow out of proportion, when they become malignant and evil and turn against the natural law. In micro, we call this cancer. It happened with my dad, Beve's sister, some friends, extended family, and, especially, Beve's mom. That malignancy killed Beve's mom. And I've seen--I admit, through the safety of my TV screen--it happen on a global level. Cells of people form for the purpose of doing damage on a state they believe to be the enemy of their own.
I've seen what happens when holes are torn in a body. Or in the brain. On the micro level (from within), Alzheimers does this. I saw it in my mother, and watch it again in Grampie. It rips holes in the brain so completely, it destroys section after section, killing a person in slow motion. And when something at high speed enters and rips through the walls of a skeleton, there is damage. Bullets do this. I knew a couple of boys in my youth whose own fathers had accidentally shot them as they were hunting together, mistaking their own sons for deer. One of the dads later took his own life, the pain so deep he could not begin to overcome it. And we all watched as giant bullets--in the form of airplanes filled with people--tore holes through building so tall they seemed to reach to heaven, and one so fortified, it seemed impenetrable, and into a field that still will forever wear the scars.
But here's the thing. As I sat outside this morning in the brilliant sunshine, I was struck by the glorious beauty of creation. The mountains I can see in the distance, the tall evergreens of various hues lining the sky-line. Birds fly and squirrels dart across the back fence. Life is a flush with beauty even as there is death in it. This is the case today as it was the case a decade ago when firefighters climbed stairwells to their certain deaths, and dust-covered people with their fearful hearts in their throats ran down Manhattan's streets away from toppled towers, and when ordinary people fought to take back a plane from those who would destroy more of their country. Beauty and honor amid the death.
I look back at the lives of those lost--both in my own small world, and in the larger one--and am aware of how like a vapor our time on this glorious earth is. 80 years, if we're blessed with longevity. But the magnifcience of creation is so breath-taking set against the brevity of our lives, that even if I was not already fully a believer, I would believe. Yes, death happens. But that can't be the end. Not when life is so brief and creation so big and glorious and beyond all that we can imagine. That's how wondrous God is. "I would have despaired, if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," says the Psalmist. And also the goodness of the Lord beyond the land of our living to our resurrected lives.
This I believe. This day. On the micro level when we face the dying of his dad, if not this day, soon enough, God knows. And on the global level. Death, yes. For each of us. Death will come. From this earth, this beautiful, lovely earth. But life, too. So let us end there, this day.