After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A fine line: life and death

Yesterday my day started with a weird dream.  The duck egg is overdue to hatch.  I feared that I killed it.  I actually dreamed that when I was checking it, I dropped it and it cracked open on the ground.  I picked it up and the crack had revealed an eyeball.  And then the eyeball opened up and looked straight at me.  It wasn't a creepy thing, but it was telling me that it was alive and I needed to put it back.

So I got up and went and took the egg out of the incubator and held it in my hand.  I could feel it tapping and pulsing in the palm of my hand.  I stuck it to my ear to see what I could hear.  I heard scratching and swooshing and a peep. 

Naturally, I went and woke Grace and the rest of the kids up.  They needed to experience this, too!  And it was time for them to get up anyway.

Checking facebook I learned that one of my friends, who I've met in real life, experienced the premature loss of a well-loved pet.  She has five little children that she now had to explain this to.  And she didn't know how.

Last week I lost an uncle to cancer.  He was one of those people who made the world a better place by simply sitting there and smiling.  He was the principal at the elementary school I attended all the time I was there and beyond.  He played the organ at our wedding and he and his wife, my grandpa's sister, were such a positive influence on the world surrounding me and my family on daily basis.  It was a long battle and he fought it bravely and with grace.  It's how he lived his life.

A few weeks ago I also received news that one of my former students was killed in a car accident.  When he was a student he was one of those guys that everyone respected because he earned their respect.  Respected, respectable, and most of all, respectful.  He went on to a reputable school, married his high school sweetheart and returned to work in the area he grew up in and coached at the school he graduated from.  But then one moment he is snuffed out and everyone is left in shock.

Life and death walk so closely in this world.  And we forget this so easily.  I am a Christian--particularly Lutheran.  I believe everything in the Bible is true. Nothing added, nothing taken away. I try to live by it as much as my human-ness allows with the help of God.  (And I'm always struck by how Jesus had to be fully God in order to fully overcome his fully human side.  I am not even a tiny bit God, so there is no way I am going to come close to overcoming my human-ness!)

The other night Brent was upset with a couple of our kids who weren't making very good decisions.  He wondered out loud as he walked by why he got so mad at them sometimes.  I said something to the affect of, "Because sin entered the world."  He just shook his head and walked off because he knew that was exactly the core of the issue.  And I wasn't helping.  Or maybe I was.  I don't know. 

Sin and death.  Both are so ugly and horrible.  And there is nothing we can do to avoid them.  Sin is in our face every day from the moment we open our eyes.  We are born sinful.  It's in our nature.  We can't be perfect no matter how we try. 

I'm not implying that anyone does anything specific that makes them deserve to die more than anyone else.  But the truth is, we are all going to die and death is a horrible, ugly fact of life.  We die because sin is a part of this life on earth.  But even in the face of that ugly fact, life is a supremely beautiful thing and such an incredible gift from God.  I am utterly in awe of this little duck we have trying as I type to get out of the egg.  This from someone who has seen any number of other animals give birth and also given birth herself four times.  New life is a miracle.  Every time.

But even with fresh new life comes pain and misery.  I had four normal, healthy pregnancies.  I had four normal, healthy labors that produced four normal, healthy children.  But pregnancy is not among the most comfortable things in this world.  Labor and delivery is also not something that is easy and pain free.  And while the mom is recovering from that, she is faced with figuring out what to do with this beautiful new person that came out of her. 

I don't know why my uncle had to go the way he did.  I don't know why my former student was suddenly gone.  Both of these deaths just keep coming back to me and I keep pondering them. And I hold my children close and pray for them and tell them to make good decisions and love everyone as best they can. I fear for their safety and sometimes I am overcome with fear that they could all be taken from me at any moment.

I'm not fearing or doubting God or shaking my fist at him in anger.  I know He loves us and wants the best for us.  After all, He made us out of love and after sin entered the world, He set into motion His plan to save us from sin and death.  We celebrate Easter with that joy because sin and death lost their sting that day when the tomb was empty.

I pray for the crazy little duck.  I want it to hatch so badly.  I want it for Grace because she's worked so hard at it for nearly five weeks now.  And we've been looking forward to it because it is always such an honor to celebrate a new life, no matter if it's a new baby born into our family or our circle of friends or a little duck working its way out of its egg. 

Celebrate life.  Celebrate it with vigor.  Mourn as deeply as you need to in death and find comfort in the promise of life.  Only God can take something as ugly and horrible as death and give us hope through it.

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