Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Taste of Salt

Sometimes you just don't know how to feel. I mean, feelings can be deceptive anyway. You can't trust them. They will tell you one thing tonight and another thing in the morning. So I try to not put too much stock in them. On the other hand, feelings are real. They are one of many windows into the soul. And while it is easy to give them too much credit there is also a danger in ignoring them altogether. They are often trying to tell you something. Finding the balance is tough.

Tomorrow we are flying down to the Lone Star State to visit our most excellent friend, Dave. Over the last decades we have had great times flying down mountains on waxed boards together, shooting fireworks at neighboring roofs (don't ask,) grilling steaks in the backyard (he likes his to resemble what a cow would look like after a fire at the stockyards. Extra crispy. Sick man.) We raised our kids and tormented our wives together. Good times.

You might remember that Dave's bride, Lynda, was called home to heaven last May. It was a crushing blow to all of us, and of course, especially Dave to lose her. Not that we really lost her. She's at "home." With Jesus. And if we know where she is how can she really be lost? But she is lost to us. It feels that way. (There is that word again.) We can't see her smile which was ever present. We can't hear her laugh which was totally infectious. We can't find her ... and to the senses of earth she feels lost.

This will be our first visit to their home without her around. We are so anxious to see Dave. He has visited us here at our place since her home-going. But we have not been there. So we are excited to get to see him. But a hollowness is already settling into our souls as we consider the depth of the loss we anticipate feeling. This is the same loss that Dave has lived with every day since May. We need to feel it. He doesn't need to be the only one to bear it. The four of us were too close for too long to allow that. As I have said, we raised our kids together. But who walks into pain voluntarily with a smile? The smile of the reunion is greatly tempered by the dread of the empty chair.

Death does that to a heart. It takes joy and crushes it into a million pieces until it taunts your memories as a mocking demon. It brings a steely taste to your mouth. I have conducted too many funerals in my life and I suspect I'll do more before my own rolls around. Personally, I'm tired of them. This is exactly why God went to such great lengths to eliminate death. This is why He sent His Son to the cross. He knew about the sting. He knew about the hopelessness. And so Jesus came. And He stared death in the eye smacked it around, crushed it's head, and walked away the victor. And we will too if we trust Him. There will come a day ... I fully believe this ... that the four of us will ski down the highest mountain we can imagine and not one of us will fall. We will carve long, wide turns in deep powder. We will laugh and play and slide to a stop together, breathing in the beauty of the New Heaven and the New Earth. It's coming. I can't see it yet. But I know it is out there. There is great joy in anticipation of this magnitude. It is a joy that cannot be equaled on earth. The joy of knowing that the death of a friend will be overcome by the power of a resurrection. And it isn't a dream. It isn't wishful thinking. It is real. We will on that day taste the flavor of the best steaks grilled to perfection.

But for now we will go to our friend. He has cried. And we must taste the salt of his tears. It is what friends do.


Anonymous said...

I know this wasn't about me and my loss, but thank you for the reminder of how my mom's friends are feeling in the aftermath of her death. I forget sometimes that they miss her, too.

I'm sure that your trip will be bittersweet, but here's hoping you have a great time with your friend.

Anonymous said...

Prayers will be with all of you as you go. You And Debbie are most excellent friends. I know that was not your point in this post, but I still wanted to tell you.


Anonymous said...

I do not know the woman you speak of, but your description of her reminds me of my husband in many ways.

As doctor's have given us news recently of my hubby's tumor and probable early death, your words warm my heart and touch my soul.

jimmah said...

I hope that this trip is going ok for you guys. I know that it wasn't going to be easy... I am glad that you are going to be with Dave. I can't imagine how he feels since she left. She truly was an infectiously joyous person!

The Dashboard Poet said...

Ron...I did a police funeral last week. As I was going to my car, with all that could be done, done, a young cop ran up to me from behind. He grabbed my elbow, turning me toward him. He thanked me for what I'd done that day, but I said I was unsure anyone was even listening. Then he said an amazing thing, I'll never forget. I'll quote him...."Chaplain, you're right. We were hurting, and none of us listened to a thing you said. But let me tell you what you did. You see, Chaplain, you talk to us with your eyes, and when we look into them, we see a man who believes what he says, and it's your confidence and faith we follow. When we are hurting, and don't know what to do, you always walk in, knowing exactly what to do....and that makes everything good for us."
Then he pumped my hand, saluted me, turned and left. And I don't even know who he is. But maybe God has cop angels. Just a thought.