Friday, August 29, 2008
When we've been here ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we've first begun. - Amazing Grace When I was in college seminary, our rector gave a homily that I've never forgotten. Well, at least the line I'll quote today. I remember it so well because I thought it was goofy when I first heard it. Really goofy. And I think he said the line three times. We all thought it was goofy, and had a good laugh afterwards (wasn't that very Christian of us?), thinking it was one of those "how not to preach" moments to keep in mind, should we be called all the way to ordination. But now, years later, having left those studies and discerned this beautiful vocation to marriage, having experienced so many joys and sorrows already that Life has spilled out before us, watching five fast years unfold like delicate wrapping paper from each "present" moment, the phrase from that homily has come back to me. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." That was it. Want to hear it again? OK. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." You can sort of put your inflection anywhere, which is fun. For example, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Though, personally, I think I like "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." This sentence, of course, begs the question: What is the "main thing"? Right now, it's easier for me to see than ever. In the midst of the fires of our sorrow, of possibly losing our unborn child, all the plans, desires, dreams, worries and wants of a lifetime just melt away, like paper tossed onto a burning wood. What matters most? The main thing is life with God in it; with God all around it, surrounding it... because this life and this suffering make no sense without Him. Honestly, this suffering makes no sense with Him. I think suffering falls sometimes without rhyme or reason; it can be random and reckless. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves, it's the friction caused by the scraping of sin in the world against God's original dream for us. But mostly I think it's the fallout or aftershock of that rebellion, sending rippling waves throughout the universe. "Thorns and thistles grew," nature rocks and rolls and reeks havoc, from the macro to the micro, the physical and the spiritual, and even into the tiny cells of a little baby that should be healthy and whole. I don't know what it is keeping me afloat. I'm not angry at the world or God. I'm just in a white-hot furnace of sorrow. Barring a miracle, our baby will die. This is insane and this is burning us. I'm not carrying the baby, but I'm doing my best to carry Rebecca and the baby. I don't know what to say. But I know God isn't doing it to us. It's not His fault. It's not our fault. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. - John 9 The main thing, it seems to me, is a life with God in it. The kind of God Who Himself entered into this mess, bore suffering to the extreme, and redeemed it. He tells us to carry on, the way He did unto the Cross itself. The main thing is for us to know we need God. We pray that this suffering might end in a miraculous healing so that the works of God might be made visible through our baby. We are fervently praying for this. But in it all, I remember the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Love is here, burning us in sorrow. But in 10,000 years this sorrow will have passed, have been redeemed, transformed. In eternity we pray that we will be surrounded by the beautiful little ones we've adopted and lost. And the destiny of our 13th little child, who soon will be given a name, we don't yet know. We live in hope for life here and now, to have the grace to walk a little life through the beauty and the brokenness of this world, and we hope for life in its fullness in the world to come for all of us. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Pope John Paul II, intercede for us.