Pastor Mike began by barging right into that question.   It has to be asked.   That issue stirred in Mike’s gut as he prepared for his message at Mary Ann’s funeral here.  I started the Memorial message in Aurora that way also.  Mike immediately reviewed the common answers, all seeming to diminish the sheer horror of what she went through.  The popular answers sometimes make God seem very arbitrary and callous to human pain — as if He were just playing with us, or teaching us lessons. 

“Jesus wept.”  Remember that passage, the shortest verse in the Bible?  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”  Apparently, God understands human pain fully, experientially.  Jesus’ tears and His scream at God were not pretense.  What Mary Ann went through cannot be diminished by any of the answers we give to that question, “why.” 

The question is a search for whom to blame.  Some suggest that everything that happens is God’s will.  If that were the case, the Biblical concept of Sin would not exist.  Things happen that do not please God.  That is what the Cross was about, addressing the painful reality that God’s will is not done.  The Good News is that the pain and suffering that comes to good and bad alike, do not have to be the last word.  The Cross has trumped it.

For Mary Ann and me, that meant that we did not have to waste our precious days arguing with God, blaming God, obsessed with answering the question, “why.”  Instead we could draw strength from the One who stole from the pain and suffering its power to destroy us.  God has the last word.  That word is life.  In spite of the horror of what she was going through, we could engage life fully. 

Because we had access to a quality of life that transcends the struggles, that has no arbitrary limit placed on it by death, it is possible now to look back and celebrate the gifts that came in spite of and even on account of the struggles Mary Ann went through. 

I was convinced when we were going through our days. and I am still convinced that we were living life with an intensity and awareness and quality that exceeded any other time in our lives.  Nothing we did was trivial.   It was about human survival.  Lots of time was spent dealing with the most basic of human needs.  It was as if daily life ceased to be background music that we barely noticed as the hours went by.  Life became the music and we were the instrumentalists.  We were not watching life go by, we were living it.  What a profound gift! 

One reason that I am now so intent on living every day fully and with meaning, engaging life actively as a participant rather than a spectator is that we lived the last almost twenty-four years of our lives doing something of fundamental value, beyond measure.  At one of our recent Grief Support group meetings a couple of us who had done full time care of our Loved Ones observed that it was very difficult for us to find something worth doing now that the care-giving was done, something that measured up to what we had had the privilege of doing with our Spouses for months or years before they died. 

The gift that was given to us is a vivid awareness of the value of every moment of life, every day that is being given to us, when it is being given.  Mary Ann had always understood better than I, that the moment we are in is the one we need to experience fully.  I was  a slow learner, but in the end, I caught on.  I lament how often I hesitated to join in the life-filled moment’s activity.  There was always something else more important coming next.  Then life would be full.  Mary Ann and the harsh onslaught of the Parkinson’s taught me, gave me a gift that I am only now unwrapping fully — the Present. 

Enough for now.  There is more to come.

Advertisements