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This entry is a bit heavy. I was exploring death, grief, love, God… this is just my experience, nothing more. All that to say you may not want to read on if, at this moment, you are looking for something light.
You cannot afford to go through this existence half-heartedly. You are in a slumber, preferring numbness to the full force of reality. You walk the same routes between work, friends, your favorite bar or cafe. Creature comforts, child, creature comforts.
When you allow silence to reign for a moment, do you hear it? Do you feel it? The unknowing? The division within self? The restless discontent that manifests in foolish romantic connections, ill-fitting jobs, or new gadgets? Do you feel it?
Do not fear the darkness for it is a holy darkness. This is a holy place. Here, where all is stripped away, you can find the keys to life eternal. Here, in this forsaken wasteland, you can find the water of life. Do not fear your brokenness, for there is one who can make you whole.
The day I saw the face of death was the day I woke up.
The face of death had purple lips. It had a broad nose, defined chin, and eyelids with generous black lashes. It looked very similar to my dad. But it wasn’t. No, it wasn’t him because he had left, and allowed death to take up residence in his empty shell.
My mother’s eyes were glistening red, face half-hidden behind a Kleenex. Her grief hit me before I could register any emotion of my own. It was the kind of emotion that strikes you full in the face – raw grief free of any filters or masks, all pleasantries forsaken. It was the kind of emotion that tore at your soul, that made you so uncomfortable you had to sit down. So I did. Dropping my backpack by the door, I walked slowly to our couch.
“They say it happened last night… in his sleep. Enlarged heart…it was peaceful… He’s in his room. You can say goodbye.”
But I couldn’t say goodbye. I didn’t have the chance. He was already gone. I’ve heard people say that when they lose a loved one, a piece of them dies as well. Perhaps this happened to me, but I felt something else…I felt suddenly aware. I was aware of many things. I was aware of endless tears, and the hands of my family that sought to give me comfort. I was aware of the sorrow that filled my living room. I was aware of the cacophony of voices and sounds, and the still silence that surrounded my father’s corpse. I was aware of the musty smell of the couch I was sitting on. I was aware that I was fourteen and sitting on a musty brown couch.
All of reality took a sharpness as I was made suddenly aware of the imminence of death.
And this is why I woke up. There was no other response. With death so near, I suddenly asked what life was. So many things that were once important seemed now utterly absurd. School? School doesn’t matter. My soccer game? Doesn’t matter. What I do now or ten years from now? Does it matter? It’s all going to end…at any moment.
And so I acquainted myself to the big questions that seemed to haunt human history:
Why am I here?
Death. It is the reality that no one wants to speak of. The threat of it inspires so many of us into inane busyness: frantic action to ward off the voice that whispers when we sit still for too long… And what, exactly, is the point?
I don’t know what the point is, I’m not sure there is a point per say. All I know is that in the midst of my mourning, in my bleakest apathy, I encountered a presence of living love. Language can be so terribly inadequate. The experience lasted a few short minutes, but I felt as if I had been gone for hours. It was peace, it was passion. It was so utterly different, it was home. It was unrelenting; it expanded my soul to the very border of my skin and threatened to unmake me, cell by cell. It was fire, it was water…it changed my life. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” over and under and through me. Later I learned of mystic experiences, those who sought to live in invisible places. All I know is it came upon me, thick, heavy, and sweet. I told God that if this was him, I wanted it all, I wanted all of Him and nothing less. His passion became my purpose.
His presence, sometimes tender, sometimes awful mystery, has not left me. I have not yet been made perfect in love, and there are so many things I don’t understand. But I have come to love the learning. With humility, laughter, a great willingness to fall and an even greater willingness to fly — I’m alive.