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