If there were a day to strike from the calendar—Feb 27 would be that day for me—a day three of the most beautiful young people on the planet departed, eleven years ago. Every day in the news, I hear of events that would make others wish to erase another day.
As I type, a reminder pops up in the corner of my computer screen- A day to get through. A month ago I typed those words on this day. Now it asks me if I want to close or snooze—could erase be an option?
I find that the dread of a day can be worse than the day itself. As I was writing in my journal the day before, I decided music should be a part of this preparation. “All right, God—you can select the songs.” I put the setting to random. I never know what will play, usually a mixture of spiritual, folk, John Fogarty, Christmas carols, and my foreign language lessons. I had the sneaky suspicion I was trying to put God to the music test, just to see if He was listening.
The first song takes me back to when my now-in-heaven-daughter was thirteen. This was a signature song for her that year. Through the register vents Twyla Paris would sing: God is in control, we will choose to remember and never be shaken, there is no power above or below. Oh-oh-oh God is in control. That is a great start. I could not have picked better.
The next song is from the Christmas album given by that same daughter her last Christmas, and Sue Chick sings … Heaven comes down, the hearts of men rise … do we dare take a chance … and the heart longs for more. Then Steve Bell tells me that Into the darkness we must go, gone, gone is the light.
And I notice increased number of age spots on the hand that holds the pen. I sit there thinking this is kind of silly and any moment the Arabic lesson would come through. I was interrupted by a call from the florist for a delivery. But, song after song encouraged me. At song 14, I thought perhaps I should get on with my day. Johnny Reid finishes the set of fifteen with I left my hometown years ago … to let all this love surround me. I would have said, to let all this beauty surround me. And I realize Love and Beauty often feel synonymous. Both are heavenly gifts. I contemplate the power of the words, and the themes of love, loss and suffering … songwriters capture the struggles we have. Music soothes and inspires, it reminds me that I am not in control, I am not alone on the journey, and I must continue. Sauntering in sacredness is an option.
I sent my sister-in-law a thank you for the flowers, she responded with an email about an image she had of new green shoots coming forth. Later that afternoon, I went for a walk … and found a likeness of her vision:
Never before have I seen shoots in February. These green and burgundy shoots brimmed with hope of new life. For this day, I head to the mountains, to contemplate the gifts of the journey … and to sit in the beauty, this is what I left my hometown for.
From John O’Donohue’s book Beauty, a poem by Dietrich Boenhoffer:
The Unfilled Gap
Nothing can fill the gap When we are away from those we love and it would be Wrong to try to find anything
Since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between Us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap.
He does not fill it but keeps it empty, so that our communion With another may be kept alive even at the cost of pain.