Friday, February 19, 2010

Hard Lessons and Real Love

Lent - Day 3

The true test - as I intimated in yesterday's blog - of a spiritual life that means anything in the long run is - well - the long run! Has this week's sudden rush of intention, going into Lent, yielded yet to the difficulty of sustaining forward progress? Or are we waking up every morning with our desire to follow Jesus, daily, trumping the temporary distractions that can so easily steer us off course?

I was reminded of that in a potentially overwhelming sense this morning, when the first email alert I read (while walking Scout) was the sad news that my cousin - Linda Andrews - had died during the night. This was not unexpected, since her prognosis had been grim since around Thanksgiving; but the passing of someone you love always hurts deeply.

Just yesterday morning I had made the decision to fly to England and see the family (She's my dad's sister's daughter). I purchased my tickets by noon, and just a few hours later she was gone. Linda, just in her mid 40's, was a beautiful woman, both inside and out, someone who's vibrant sense of life and "live-it-out-loud" application of faith was very much the heart of her immediate family.

Solemnity: And so here is a day that engages the deepest meaning of Lent's primary focus - and that is the powerful truth that Christ's signal achievement at the Cross was/is an understanding that eternity is held in every moment; life, death, and - sometimes most poignantly - the transition between the two.

I sensed this acutely, and I've written about this before, during a wonderful conversation I had with Linda and her husband, Dave, via Skype the first week of December. I used the idea that it was difficult to tell anymore where Linda ended and God began...

I can't do any better - at least not today - than to paste in some words from that post...We prayed together at the end of the conversation, and I wish we all could have taken one-another's hands. But it was interesting how prayer itself linked us inexplicably, and I could barely speak through the tears. It was as if a different kind of conduit had opened up the moment we began to pray..

So there is communication and then there is communication. The content was necessarily deep, but something else happened when faith entered the equation. "Perfect love," Jesus said, "takes care of all fear." and "Have courage - take heart; I have overcome the world."

I've said before that my cousin Linda is a cool lady, full of grace and strength. Well, she'd say it isn't her, that the grace is all God - and even more the strength part. But that is what happens when you don't really know anymore where you come to an end and where God begins.

I' m thankful that, as who Linda is becomes more and more defined by eternity than it is by time, my cousin's faith is something that we all can embrace, and that God's powerful presence is all about the fullness of life.

That we all might know the assurance of such faith and love - DEREK

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