Y’all, it’s the kind of fall day here in Kentucky that’ll make you feel anything at all is possible.
Warm sun. Cool, dry air. The bluest of Bluegrass skies. Leaves beginning to turn gold and crimson, just at the edges, sweet promises of the autumn glory to come. A pearly moon early this morning graciously giving way to it all. It defies accurate description, and after all that has been these last several months, it almost takes my breath away.
I’ve watched squirrels and chipmunks both scatter about while I work outside, and a couple of cardinals keep dashing in and out of a neighbor’s tree. A hawk is screaming shrilly every once in a while, like we don’t he’s there, circling for some poor unfortunate creature who doesn’t see him coming. There’s a blue jay, too, who struts around my yard like it’s his personal kingdom. Obnoxious as hell but of course gorgeous.
It’s all so beautifully alive! And that I am here, drawing deep, real breaths, seems nothing short of a grace I don’t deserve.
A friend I’m doing some writing work for asked me how I was the other day–in body and spirit both. It’s so bittersweet, y’all. So much is so awful. But I have to be honest about this pure joy and gratitude I have for being, right now, relatively healthy after biopsies and chemo and scans. I’m just about as good as I can be at this moment. And I write about it as a reminder that I cannot, for one moment, take it for granted. Not ever again. Not when just a few months ago I spent most mornings on this same back deck in tears, praying desperately for the cancer to be kept at bay as much as possible. At the core of that deep grief was fear for my daughter, who is already growing up without her father. I could not fathom her having to lose me, too.
I cannot take it for granted when, all over the world and certainly in my own city, the lives of so many others are at stake.
I cannot give you some rational explanation, some transactional analysis, for how prayer works. I once had a very difficult conversation with a little boy at church who thought prayer was magic, you know, get a wand as cool as Harry’s and you’re good.
How I wish it were so.
And while I don’t know who else to thank but the God I believe in, stake my life on, for this space I am in, I know, too, that there are righteous and real and desperate prayers rising all over this city, all over this world, all over this country…and in the very lives of people I love fiercely…that seem to go unanswered.
As you’ve maybe heard me say before, I do not believe God leads us to suffering. But I sure as anything believe God gets to work for our good in the midst of it. Even if with painful steps and slow. And even if we cannot see it for ourselves.
Our world is on fire, y’all. At least my corner of it is, and I cannot believe yours isn’t either. And in the midst of the communal flames lie our own personal heartaches, too.
And I know that for so many people hope seems at absolute best, the most Pollyanna of pipe dreams.
My dear friend Russ and I have, at various difficult or scary points in our lives and ministry, promised this to one another, “I’m going to believe that for you, until you can believe it yourself.”
And I wonder if, right now, the responsibility of those of us who are able to carry even the tiniest sliver of hope, is to offer to carry a little for someone else. I wonder if right now, those of us who have survived the things it seemed we could not, might need to shoulder hope for others.
“I’m going to hope for you, until you are able to hope for yourself.”
I guarantee there is someone in your life who needs to hear this from you. I guarantee you will need to hear it yourself at some point along the way. If today happens to be that day, then know this, “I’m going to carry that hope for you, until you are able to carry it yourself.”
The pain all around us is real, y’all. Palpable. Tearing us apart in all sorts of ways. “What’s going to become of us?” I have seen people write and heard people say. We’re in a tight spot. And it doesn’t some days, look good at all.
But I cannot believe that the Creator of this utterly beautiful and alive day has done any of that creating out of anything but love. Pure, unending, all-encompassing love.
And if that’s true…then this cannot possibly be the end.
Even if I have to carry it for you.