My phone rang and I heard my dad's voice on the end of the line. "Steve, something terrible has happened." My aunt had been struggling with pancreatic cancer, and I assumed that this was the notification of her passing. I was not extremely close to her, but did feel concern for my mom who would take her loss very hard. I prepared to be empathetic to the loss. I prepared to hear that my aunt had lost her battle. Sometimes preparations are in vain.
"Brandon was killed in a car accident today." My father's voice cracked. I lauged. Then my heart exploded in my throat. My cousin with whom I was the closest was...
"I need to go."
"Okay." My dad answered and hung up the phone.
Four hours later, I found myself here, looking into the face of a man who had lived through his own hell. And, though I was reeling, though life was wiped clean of meaning in the waves of grief that built and crashed and subsided and crashed and built again, I was not alone. I was not handed platitudes about the will of the divine. I was given a memory of a crying face - distorted in my own tears - shaking back and forth amid the chaos... a face as tormented and confused as mine.
Jesus experienced loss. Lazarus, the garden, His friends, His mother - He was no stranger to this chaos. Jesus wept. In this simple text there is no time allotment. Given the amount of time He agonized under the weight of the world in the garden, I doubt this was a rushed process. Before Brandon, I liked to speed past the awkward sobs and tears of Jesus' death. I liked to skip to Sunday. I liked to hear the tale of triumph. Now I feel that sorrow is its own sanctuary. It is a place to grieve that simple reality that things fall apart. Without letting ourselves live there, is it possible that we deprive ourselves of a true sense of redemption? Does order seem so wonderful if one has lived and fully understood the experience and the horror of the chaos? Today we hear voices that speak of the chaos, not to worship the chaos, but so that we can truly see how great it is to ally ourselves with redemption.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6585