(It’s been a difficult week, and we are all reeling a little. This feels appropriate on Veterans day.)
Four times he’s left me now, with the changing of the seasons.
Four times he’s packed his bags and stood with his back in the doorway, four times we’ve updated the wills, written goodbye letters, and swallowed back the tears.
Four times I’ve wrapped my arms around him, tucked my head up under his chin, breathed in deep the smell of him, and held my breath to last six months, a year or forever.
Four times he’s left us in the fall, surrounded by the dead and dying leaves and it’s easy to be afraid of the death and the dying, to give in to the decay, to feel abandoned.
It’s easy to be afraid.
We’ve endured miscarriage, the death of dear friends, depression, anxiety, and fear all while he’s been half a world away. And in the dark and gray of winter, my soul cries out like that of the psalmist, when he says,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest” … and then again … “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” (From Psalm 22).
But oh I have never been alone, and death gives way to the living. Bare branches bloom with the promise of new life and the stark weight of the cross is born up by the hollow spaces of an empty tomb.
In the very same Psalm, ringing out in the echoes of his lament, are the notes of His coming glory.
Four times he’s left me, and four times he’s returned.
And our homecoming is an imperfect picture of our heavenly welcome where death is defeated and new life abounds.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Peter 1:3).
We’re in a season of staying now, but the changing and the death and dying and the back to life never stops.
It unfolds in the growing of our children, and the seasoning of our marriage, and the ebb and flow of the Army life. It winds around the moments we mourn for the would-have-beens and rejoice in the what-we-haves.
An exquisite, redemptive story of life and death and life again.
To those who have done the leaving, and those who have been the left behinds. Thank you. For your service, for your sacrifice, for your selflessness. You are shining threads in the sometimes tumultuous weave of our nation’s history.
For my dad, Bowen, my brother John, for Paul, for all of our brothers and sisters in arms. For Jaime, and for Andy. A reflective, thoughtful Veterans Day to you all.