In the Aftermath,
the water is still and the mist hangs heavy in the air,
a memory of earlier rain.
On the periphery, the trees are motionless.
Lake and sky are gray:
a monochrome world.
Two ducks paddle slowly across the water.
I take it all in: the water, the sky, the ducks, the trees –
the heaviness of the air, the gray stillness of the world –
but feel nothing.
Just the wet of the tears as they slip down my cheeks.
They come slowly, at first, but soon are a silent downpour.
Grief weighs heavy on my heart.
Dusk comes and I walk.
The familiar crunch of leaves
has been silenced by the wet,
and the whole world feels muted,
Until I see them –
Robed in vibrant hues of orange and red and yellow,
they stand tall beneath the gray skies.
A herald of life.
They contradict everything.
They are beautiful.
And I weep.
The grief weighs heavy, muting my senses. I always thought it would be loud –
Not like this, like a blanket of gray, like the heaviness of the air after the rain and before the sun.
Not like this, a numbing agent so powerful that I scarcely recognize the wet of the tears on my cheeks or the pain of walking too far in the wrong shoes.
Not like this, hidden away like a silent secret, unknown to anyone else.
Not like this, present in the midst of life.
Not like this, wrapped like weights around my ankles, slowing my steps when everyone around me hurries on– business, as usual.
Not like this, a closed chamber of my soul that my own precious children, with whom I spend more time than almost anyone else, know nothing about. They are just the same as they were yesterday.
But I am not.
In the park, the trees surround me with the splendid colors of fall. They are not numb, like me, muted in gray and weighed down by grief and sorrow and confusion; they are beautiful. Stunningly beautiful, each leaf a slightly different shade, unique in color but part of a magnificent whole. Reds and yellows and oranges. Greens and browns.
I am confused by their beauty.
How could they stand there? So beautiful? How could they go on living, in the midst of death? In the midst of all the grief in the world? In the midst of my grief?
The trees are a reminder of life in the midst of grief and death. They are life despite death.
The leaves are beautiful because they are dying.
The trees stands tall and strong in their midst, in the midst of death. As the leaves die to make room for new life, the tree lives on. In their death, the leaves are glorious, their beauty a celebration of life and a reminder of what’s to come. Their beauty a reminder to me, on this day, of all the beauty in the world.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. ~2 Corinthians 4: 16
Do not lose heart, those trees said to me. While I wept tears of sorrow and confusion and mourning, the trees stood before me. Do not lose heart.
Their beauty both hurt and comforted.
How could God create something – only to allow it to die?
The colors are vibrant – a word associated with life, energy, vitality. The leaves are dying, but the colors are alive – beauty is alive, even in the midst of death.
I do not have to understand – though I want to – but I can accept. I can accept the life around me. I can accept the beauty. I can accept the reminders of God’s goodness, of His faithfulness, of His promises. I may not understand them, but I can trust what He has done and what He promises to do. After all – has he not created life out of death in those very trees? Year after year? Has he not created life out of death in my own life? In all my many mistakes, in all the times I yelled at my husband or raised my voice at my kids or cursed my very own Creator and turned away? Has He not covered over these things with His grace and revealed something beautiful – each time? How else would I have experienced the beauty of forgiveness, of love, of compassion, of tender mercy?
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145: 13b-18
So I will grieve. I will mourn. I will walk around feeling alone and isolated and separate from the world around me for a time. But I will also know this: life from death. A trustworthy God, righteous and faithful in His deeds. Near to those who call on Him.
Lord, come. Show yourself to me. Comfort your children, heal the brokenhearted, bind up all our wounds. I may never understand the things that have happened to my family in this season, but I can trust you. And I can trust that you love all three of my children, including the one that you just brought Home.