Daily Devotional: Choosing Life

time running out10 I have observed the task that God has given human beings. 11 God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end.

12 I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. 13 Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work. 14 I know that whatever God does will last forever; it’s impossible to add to it or take away from it. God has done this so that people are reverent before him.15 Whatever happens has already happened, and whatever will happen has already happened before. And God looks after what is driven away.

— Ecclesiastes 3, CEB

To me these words of Ecclesiastes express what I have found and embraced as I begin to move toward the stage of grief in which I engage re-embracing life in all of its complexity and beauty.

breath prayerI am keenly aware that I have breath.  That I have life here in this world, with all its pain and cruelty together with its unimaginable beauty and joy that brims to overflowing.

Learning to embrace life includes the pain.  It includes facing I lost four people dear to me this year, three from illnesses I was powerless to face.  It means facing as I am fully present with those near me that there are a few whom very soon I will have to say goodbye to that are near me, whom I am even now watching face illnesses I cannot see them getting better from.

While facing into this, my good friend Erica whose wedding I was blessed to officiate, shared the following song with me:

This is how it works
It feels a little worse
Than when we drove our hearse
Right through that screaming crowd
While laughing up a storm
Until we were just bone
Until it got so warm
That none of us could sleep
And all the styrofoam
Began to melt away
We tried to find some worms
To aid in the decay
But none of them were home
Inside their catacomb
A million ancient bees
Began to sting our knees
While we were on our knees
Praying that disease
Would leave the ones we love
And never come again

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo’s really long
But it’s a pretty song
We listened to it twice
‘Cause the DJ was asleep

This is how it works
You’re young until you’re not
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again

And on the radio
You hear November Rain
That solo’s awful long
But it’s a good refrain
You listen to it twice
‘Cause the DJ is asleep
On the radio
(oh oh oh)
On the radio
On the radio – uh oh
On the radio – uh oh
On the radio – uh oh
On the radio

When I heard this song fully, I thought: this is it.  This is me.   It gets worse first, but then it gets better.  I wake up from 12 years of marriage, out of the fog of grief and find this time I am not young.  I was young and now I’m not.  I loved passionately thinking it would be for ever.  Now its over.   I do get on my knees as I did many a night when Kat was sick, now for other friends who are sick, and tears in my eyes beg the disease to go away, for it is so hard to face that loving means saying goodbye not just to her but to friends, to family, to every thing in my life at some point that matters. It is hard to truly see as the psalmists so beautifully reminded us throughout the book of Psalms that we are grass, blown away by the wind, and only so far as we are swept into the living Word in whose song we tremble and dance is a bit of us remaining more than a season in the unending years of time.

broken heart 3But yet, dear God it’s true, isn’t it?  True that my task is to breathe, every day, until my dying breath sends me home, to the world unending.  And while I am here I must learn to open my heart to life however hard it is, however frightening.

So I find myself truly looking in, putting aside that which is in me that is not good, not right, not true.  I find myself learning that a broken heart can destroy you but it also can open you up to life.

And I look find life everywhere.  I find I have to do as Regina sings here, and open my heart to others.  To friends whom I fear will give up on me with how topsy turvy I am even as I start to take my life back as my own.  To family to whom I want to be a support and not a burden.  To children, I hope, for I plan to work now to be a father, whether I find someone to love as a partner again or not.  And I’m finding to my surprise I am open to that too.  As I’ve said already I don’t know that I will ever want or to marry again, although I think if  I had a partner who wanted I could do it.  But through people in my life whom I see care for me and are the sort of people if they ever cared for me like that, I would want to spend my days with, I know that there is a room in my heart growing where love can be born, one that grows there even while these 13 amazing years with this amazing woman are unable to ever leave my heart.

But opening up is hard.  I feel all the time like I am damaged goods, a burden to my friends, trouble to my family, and clearly not good partner material.  But its ok.  The people who love me are understanding and gentle.  And I learn through their example how to be gentle to myself.

I do not know what transitions you are going through, my dear friends.  But be open.  Let what seems to breaking you not destroy you but break you open, so your heart becomes open to all of this beautiful, vexing world.  For where one becomes fully alive, God is present and glorified.  And in you, in me, in all that lives, a spark that is holiness burns bright.  In coming home to ourselves, coming home to our world, we find and embrace just that spark.

Your progressive redneck preacher,



One thought on “Daily Devotional: Choosing Life

  1. Even in your pain you are insightful, open-hearted and poetic. God bless you all the way through. Keep writing!

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