October 30: Almost Completely Numb


Today’s bible verses, from various devotional sources:

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Those who love their life lose it and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me…whoever serves me, the Father will honor.                                             John 12:24-26

The Lord says, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 43:19

Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.                                                               Jeremiah 29:11

We continue to receive cards, emails, text messages, Facebook messages full of love and concern. One of Mark’s friends wrote of his faith being renewed, after years of being angry at God. The middle school chorus teacher writes that she hopes her own sons will be like mine, and that she is going to make sure parents know how terrific their kids are. Scholarships are being created in his name.  Mark’s too-brief life is like a pebble thrown in a lake – the ripples from that impact just keep spreading.   The words “a good tree bears good fruit” came to me this morning.

But I still await my consolation.  My assurance. I am endlessly sad, endlessly frustrated and confused. I feel God has left me, left us to twist in the wind. My head is full of static. I am numb even to things that should register as unusual. For instance: I went for my usual walk around the lake yesterday and something happened.

The lake and surrounding parkland near our house is a spot of lovely wilderness in a congested mess of humanity and suburban blight, and I have felt the veil to be thin there…like heaven is very, very near. I have often seen deer in the woods, but this day, as I trudged along a stretch of path with a fence to my right, I was surprised to find a young buck – maybe 2 points on his small antlers – standing right on the other side of the chain-link, just a few feet away. It seemed like he was trying to figure out how to get through. And he was just as surprised to see me.

I stopped. The deer backed away, pulling back further into the brush. I stood there for a few moments trying to figure out what to do. I’ve never been one to ignore the plight of any animal, so I thought, “oh, what the heck,” and then I said, out loud, in the deer’s general direction “So. Hi. There’s an opening in the fence back there, and I think you can get through” and started to retrace my steps.

I walked back about 100 feet to where someone had peeled the chain-link back to create a large opening, and stepped through to the other side. I couldn’t see the deer any longer, but I thought maybe he could still hear me. So I called out to the deer and clicked my tongue really loudly…and there he came through the brush, running right toward me like an obedient family dog. I backed up so that he could see how to get through the hole in the fence and onto the path, and he followed. We shared a long look before he headed down a steep hill toward the lake, and out of my sight.

My brain, in some deep recess, was registering that this wasn’t really a normal event. But my inclination at that moment was to be cynical. I thought, “it’s bow-hunting season, you idiot. He was probably safer inside the fence. All my good intentions might have actually doomed him. This is just like me suggesting that Mark go to VT instead of NC State. Maybe he’d be alive today if I hadn’t said anything.” I resumed my plod toward home.

Even so, I wrote it all down when I got home.

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