We’ve all lost something during these prolonged time outs.
But what have we found?
I found a journal in a stack of books, words written from May to September 2014, the year I lost Jud in November. It remained unopened for several days. Enough trauma in the world. Why add to Lent’s laments?
Finally, this past Monday, I stuffed my pockets with Kleenex, mumbled a “Help me, Jesus” prayer and took a seat.
Reading tentatively, word upon word, page after page of scribbles, jots, lines and spaces, revealed a love story, better than any romantic fiction I’m fond of reading or watching. Hidden in the journal, I don’t remember writing, were snapshots of a loving family, caring friends, good neighbors, diligent doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, cleaners and tray servers. And overall, God’s mercy and grace, no matter what.
Perhaps, what amazed me most was life going on in the middle of great suffering, mostly Jud’s. We laughed, read, watched Red Sox and Patriots games, attended church. We planned Camp MoPo and sleepovers with our grandchildren. Jud fished with Chad, Luke and Poco. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. In between hospital visits for chemo and tests, we lived life as fully as possible.
Then, came lock down. Jud in isolation at MGH. To visit, we needed to scrub, wear gloves and masks. No children allowed. Still, life more fragile and precious continued, measured and monitored by doctors, nurses and lab technicians. Tough decisions made, important protocols followed, days became weeks. There were tears, quaking hearts, anxious minds, flimsy faith to be sure. But we took life in small bites, moment by moment, savoring words from God and others, listening to music like Ortega’s ” when I am alone, give me Jesus.”
And Jesus came and stayed.
Much to my surprise, I never lost it as I read the journal. Made it through with Kleenex to spare. Gratitude can do that.
After closing the journal, I found myself singing the song, a Haitian nursing assistant, hummed on the first day I took a seat to watch and pray while they hooked Jud up for his treatment at MGH.
“Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me.”
It was true then, as my journal reminded me.
And it is true today, during this season of gloves, masks, isolation and uncertainty.
On the last entry, I wrote the verse Jud and I hung onto that September day. It was found in Colossians 1:11-12 in The Message.
“We pray that you’l have the strength to stick it out over the long haul–not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
Jud was good at balancing hope and reality. While I prayed this prayer for Jud, He prayed it for me, knowing I’d need it more. And I did and do.
When we felt lost, God found us, and gave us strength to endure the unendurable.
That was then, today we have an unexpected challenge to balance hope with reality. During this uncertain time, I believe God’s strengthening and working in us and our world. Why? Because God knows what’s coming, so is ” making us strong enough to enjoy everything bright and beautiful he has for us.”
Hard to believe?
Grace never made sense.
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