Window of Hope

Today marks nine years since my dad was released from his broken body that was ravaged by years of battling Alzheimer's. As the sadness of that day threatens to spill over on this dreary, rainy Saturday morning, I'm reminded that just like a prisoner on his much anticipated release date, my dad was finally freed. And while it was a heartbreaking, excruciatingly long journey for his family and friends to have to witness, it was finally finished on March 23, 2004.You can read about my dad's loving legacy here. 

Instead of fighting this sadness, I've decided to snuggle under my warm blanket of melancholy. Not for long, mind you, maybe not even the whole day. But I need to nestle down, reminisce and have a good cry.

I've often wondered if my dad is aware of my journey here. I've read commentaries and blogs arguing for and against the belief that those in heaven can see us on earth. Many believe they can offer prayers on our behalf. And while that thought is comforting to me, others counter that knowing our struggles would lessen the perfection of heaven. So it's simply not possible. There seems to be scripture supporting both sides.

I do know that I've been with many people as they've taken their last breath, and they often reach and call out for a loved one who has passed. If you were there, I don't think you would doubt that loved ones often come back to usher the dying into heaven. Is it possible that they come back more than we think? 

I prefer to think that God, being his omniscient, glorious self, has a special little window in heaven for each of his children. At certain times, the curtain is pulled back, and they can look down and get a glimpse into their family's lives. And maybe there are times when the window is slung wide open, and they can actually be present with us. A birth. A baptism. A wedding. A passing. A welcoming home.

And maybe, just maybe, my dad is looking out his window today. A smile tugs at his lips as his dimple deepens. He whispers a promise. "Not long. It's not long until we will all be enjoying this incredible perfection of heaven together." His face brightens. "Oh, the things I have to show you. The places we will go. The joy we have to share as we spend eternity together. Friends. Family. And most importantly, the One who made it all possible. Our Father. Our Savior. Our Hope."

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
1 Corinthians 2:9

Setting Sail

I've had the honor to be with several people this week who were in labor. Not the joyous occasion of welcoming a new baby, but rather, the final labor. The struggle of birthing one’s spirit into heaven. I've witnessed families and hospice nurses provide the warmth and compassion of seasoned mid-wives as they coach and encourage.

If only we could see what those who are laboring see. The soldier, ending his war with cancer, speaks to his departed mother as if she were right there in the room. A lady whose voice was stolen by Alzheimer’s years ago, looks up from her hospital bed, smiles and reaches for something in the air.

It’s as though they have one foot here, in what we call reality, and another in their future home, their eternal home. If only we could understand that both are equally real.

If only we could see. We wouldn't grieve in desperation and beg them to stay. We would have tears of joy, like those bidding farewell, waving as a ship sets sail for a new adventure and an indescribable, glorious destination.

Yes, good-byes are still sad. Being separated from those we love is painful, often gut-wrenching, but if only we could see with their eyes. If only we could feel what they feel, experience their miraculous new birth. We would truly grieve as those who have hope.

I pray that if you are grieving a loss today, you will feel God's tender embrace as He gives comfort to your broken heart.

Gone From My Sight
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,  
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. 
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone." 
Gone where? 
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" 
And that is dying...
~~Henry Van Dyke